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Anyhoes...The Chinos get along fine without punctuation andinflection. So, why can't we

They have to get by without inflection, don't they? Can't inflection completely change the meaning of a word?

Yup, exactly my point. That's why someone pointed out that Chinese people add the word "ma" to the end of the questions. But it literally means "question mark" and takes no inflection. In Oriental languages, there are four different inflections. Four different totally unrelated words could be meant by "ma", depending on whether it's a rising inflection, falling inflection, no inflection, or a trill. This is why Euros have so much trouble learning Asian lang.
When I learned Spanish, my teacher gave three examples of ... English between: "Are you smart?" "You're smart?" "You're smart, right?"

In AmE anyway. "Samrt" does not yet universally mean intelligent oracademic here in the UK but our broadcasters seem to be trying to force"smart/dumb" down our throats so I doubt it will be long. Harumph!

LOL BIZARRE! What's "smart" mean in Euro?
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UK "smart" = US "metrosexual"
..r
academic "smart/dumb" LOL BIZARRE! What's "smart" mean in Euro?

UK "smart" = US "metrosexual"

Huh??? But the UK MADE UP the term "metrosexual" as it applies to Beckham Spice.
LOL BIZARRE! What's "smart" mean in Euro?

I don't know about "Euro" but in my experience of BrE it can mean:-
1) Well turned out (e.g. he is a smart dresser)
2) A combination of well-judged and skilful - but without really meaningeither on its own (e.g. that was a smart move)

3) To hurt or grate

Ida Goode-Johnson
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My Dutch teacher told us one could 'correctly' make a statement into a question by adding a different particle at the end I think it was 'he' (with an accent aigu over the e, which I don't have on this keyboard). There was a rising inflection on the 'he'.

On the other hand in Russian we were taught a falling inflection, which makes things sound very 'flat' to the ears of a native speaker of English and also very confusing as you keep forgetting which are the statements and which are the questions.
And in tonal languages of course the intonations are vital to the meaning of the words, so certainly no correlation between rising inflections as questions. When I mention this to my friends who teach Chinese they are amazed at our consistency, so to speak, and realise it explains a lot of mistakes their foreign students make.

cheers,
Stephanie
Minor technical correction: Mandarin Chinese has four tones (plus oh, never mind, call it four for purposes of this discussion); other 'Oriental' languages have different numbers of tones. The four you were describing are more usually called high level, rising, falling-rising, and falling.
cheers,
Stephanie
LOL BIZARRE! What's "smart" mean in Euro?

I don't know about "Euro" but in my experience of BrE it can mean:- 1) Well turned out (e.g. he ... skilful - but without reallymeaning either on its own (e.g. that was a smart move) 3) To hurt or grate

It means all those things here too, but #1 and #2 come from its most common meaning: intelligent.
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LOL BIZARRE! What's "smart" mean in Euro?

I don't know about "Euro" but in my experience of BrE it can mean:- 1) Well turned out (e.g. he ... skilful - but without reallymeaning either on its own (e.g. that was a smart move) 3) To hurt or grate

P.S., "smart" can also mean something like "wise-ass" here. "Wise" could also replace "smart" in your #'s 1 & 2.