Below are four tonal markings for 四川话:


  • firsttone with a tone value of 55 (first tone)

  • secondtone with a tone value of 21 (second tone)

  • thirdtone with a tone value of 53 (third tone)

  • fourthtone with a tone value of 213 (fourth tone)

I believe these are an older form of the tonal markings that can be found today, i.e:

  • first tone: ˥ (55)

  • second tone: ˨˩ (21)

  • third tone: ˥˧ (53)

  • fourth tone: ˨˩˧ (213)

which have probably been made obsolete. Is my assumption correct?

If not what are the differences between these two different tonal markers?

What are these tonal markings called?

Can the first type of tonal markings be typed? (above are all pngs)

edit: the second type seem to be called tone letters: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tone_letter

but they are individually built - unlike the first kind which are morphed into one single "letter", if you will.

edit 2: these are definitely tone letters of some sort...

search search 2

I searched ˨˩ in bing and look what get's displayed in the search bar above!

it's exactly the same as the second tone picture from above: secondtone

must be some sort of font thing going on to display this, in this way...

third tone works aswell: third tone

and first tone: first tone

but fourth tone doesn't really get the same results... so what's going on here?

1 Answer 1


This a well-known issue to do with the rendering of contour tones in certain computer fonts. The Wikipedia article for tone letter states that:

The contour-tone letters are composed as sequences

In the "Modifier Tone Letters" block in the Unicode standard (A700-A71F in Unicode 7.0), only the level tone letters are provided. Hence any non-level tone letter is created by "smart rendering" capabilities within the program and within the font; it is usually classed as a type of ligature. However, many (or most?) browsers cannot handle them, or only provide some of the ligatures.

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