Toneme

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Toneme

 

in linguistics, a feature of pitch that is linguistically significant, that is, that can distinguish otherwise identical lexical and grammatical forms. A toneme is the smallest tonal unit of a suprasegmental level to which the concepts of phoneme and morpheme correspond on other levels. Both the toneme and phoneme constitute an aggregate of distinctive features associated with pitch and intonation. In descriptive linguistics a toneme is also called a tonal phoneme.