Pierre remained gloomily silent, answering in monosyllables and apparently immersed in his own thoughts.
Evidently derived from the Chinese, of which it appears to be a very ancient dialect, the Annamese language is composed of monosyllables, of slightly varied articulation, expressing different ideas according to the tone in which they are pronounced.
The meanings of the monosyllables were differentiated, as in the other Tai languages and in Chinese, by a system of tones, but these were rarely indicated in writing, and the tradition regarding them is lost.
These monosyllables may be used singly or combined, two, three or four at a time, so that the resulting co~nbinations convey almost any conceivable shades of meaning.
Of such monosyllables there are less than two thousand, and therefore many syllables have to do duty for the expression of more than one idea, confusion being avoided by the tone in which they are spoken, whence the term" tonal,"which is applied to all the languages of this family.