Evaluating the emergence of [ʋ] in modern spoken Mandarin
This sociophonetic study examines the production of the modern spoken Mandarin voiced labial-velar approximant /w/ in isolation and zero initial environments. Acoustic analyses of ten native Mandarin speakers’ productions reveal that some speakers produce /w/ as both [w] and [ʋ]. The environments in which [w] and [ʋ] appear suggest that this variation may be allophonic, conditioned by the syllable nucleus. Furthermore, our results show evidence of regional and gender variation: northern female Mandarin speakers produce [ʋ] in more contexts and more frequently than speakers from other regions.