Chinese, together with Tibetan and Myanmar (formerly known as Burmese) and the many tribal languages of South and Southeast Asia, belongs to the family of Sino-Tibetan languages. Besides a core vocabulary and sounds, Chinese and most related languages share features that distinguish them from most Western languages: they are monosyllabic in origin, have little inflection, and are tonal. In order to indicate differences in meaning between words similar in sound, tone languages assign to words a distinctive relative pitch-high or low-or a distinctive pitch contour-level, rising, or falling.


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