Functional Load

In linguistics and especially phonology, functional load (also referred to as phonemic load) refers to the importance of certain features in making distinctions in a language. In other words, a high functional load will make it hard to guess the identity of a phoneme in context when the phoneme has not been heard.

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Functional Load - Examples - Mandarin
... Another example is the functional load of tone in Putonghua (Mandarin Chinese), which is as high as that of vowels ...

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