Volume 4, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2215-1354
  • E-ISSN: 2215-1362
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



While variationist literature on sound change has mostly focused on chain shifts and mergers, much less is written about splits (Labov, 19942010). Previous literature shows that the acquisition of splits is unlikely unless motivated by social factors (Labov, 1994). The current study presents an apparent time analysis on the development of two phonemic splits, the initial /s/-/ʂ/ contrast and the initial /ɻ/-/l/ contrast, in Xiamen Mandarin, a contact variety of , the official language in China. Statistical results showed similar patterns for both variables: younger speakers and female speakers are leading the change; the distinction between two phonemes are more distinct in wordlist than in the sociolinguistic interview. By examining the sociolinguistic situation in Xiamen, the paper discusses two potential factors that have led to these sound changes: the regional campaign for Putonghua and the emphasis of , a phonetically-based orthography, in the education system.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Abdel-Jawad, Hassan , Rashid, E.
    (1981) Phonological and social variation in Arabic in Amman. Doctoral dissertation, University of Pennsylvania.
  2. Baran, Dominika
    (2014) Linguistic practice and identity work: Variation in Taiwan Mandarin at a Taipei County high school. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 18(1), 32–59.10.1111/josl.12068
    https://doi.org/10.1111/josl.12068 [Google Scholar]
  3. Barr, Dale J. , Levy, Roger , Scheepers, Christoph , & Tily, Harry J.
    (2013) Random effects structure for confirmatory hypothesis testing: Keep it maximal. Journal of Memory and Language, 68(3), 255–278.10.1016/j.jml.2012.11.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2012.11.001 [Google Scholar]
  4. Boersma, Paul , & Weenink, David
    (2013) Praat [computer software]. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam.
  5. Brubaker, Brian L.
    (2012) The normative standard of Mandarin in Taiwan: An analysis of variation in metapragmatic discourse. Doctoral dissertation, University of Pittsburgh.
  6. Chang, Yung-hsiang S. , & Shih, Chilin
    (2015) Place contrast enhancement: The case of the alveolar and retroflex sibilant production in two dialects of Mandarin. Journal of Phonetics, 50, 52–66.10.1016/j.wocn.2015.02.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wocn.2015.02.001 [Google Scholar]
  7. Chao, Yuen-Ren
    (1968) A grammar of spoken Chinese. Berkeley: University of California Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Chen, Ping
    (1999) Modern Chinese: History and sociolinguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9781139164375
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139164375 [Google Scholar]
  9. Chen, Yachuan
    (1987) Minnan Kouyin Putonghua Shuolve [Southern Min accented Putonghua]. Yuyan Jiaoxue Yu Yanjiu, 4, 148–155.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. DeFrancis, John
    (1984) The Chinese language: Facts and fantasy. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Duanmu, San
    (2007) The phonology of standard Chinese (2nd edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Hock, Hans Henrick
    (1986) Principles of historical linguistics. Berline: Mouton/de Gruyter.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Hu, Fang
    (2005) Lun Xiamenhua [mb ŋɡ nd] Shengmu De Shengxue Tezheng Ji Qita [Acoustic characteristics of Xiamen Dialect initials [mb ŋɡ nd]]. Fangyan, 1, 9–17.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Huifang: Jiaoyubu yaoxishuang sizhang zuoke zhengwuzhitong changtan putonghua tuiguang [Reply: Director of the Ministry of Education Xishuang Yao talk about Putonghua promotion]
    Huifang: Jiaoyubu yaoxishuang sizhang zuoke zhengwuzhitong changtan putonghua tuiguang [Reply: Director of the Ministry of Education Xishuang Yao talk about Putonghua promotion] (2014, September 23) China National Radio. Retrieved onJuly 25, 2017, fromwww.cnr.cn/news/201409/t20140913_516430482.shtml.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Karlgren, Bernhard
    (1915–1926) Etudes sur la phonologie chinoise [Studies on Chinese Phonology]. Leyde: E.-J. Brill.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Kubler, Cornelius C.
    (1985) The Influence of Southern Min on the Mandarin of Taiwan. Anthropological Linguistics, 27(2), 156–176.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Kuo, Yun-Hsuan
    (2005) New dialect formation: The case of Taiwanese Mandarin. Doctoral dissertation, University of Essex.
  18. Labov, William
    (1994) Principles of linguistic change volume 1: Internal factors. Malden, Massachussetts: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. (2010) Principles of linguistic change, cognitive and cultural factors (volume3). Malden, MA: John Wiley & Sons.10.1002/9781444327496
    https://doi.org/10.1002/9781444327496 [Google Scholar]
  20. Labov, William , Yaeger, Malcah , & Steiner, Richard
    (1972) A quantitative study of sound change in progress (volume1). US Regional Survey.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Ladefoged, Peter , & Wu, Zongji
    (1984) Places of articulation-an investigation of Pekingese fricatives and affricates. Journal of Phonetics, 12(3), 267–278.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Lee, Wai-Sum , & Zee, Eric
    (2003) Standard Chinese (Beijing). Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 33(1), 109–112.10.1017/S0025100303001208
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0025100303001208 [Google Scholar]
  23. Li, Fangfang
    (2008) The phonetic development of voiceless sibilant fricatives in English, Japanese and Mandarin Chinese. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, The Ohio State University.
  24. Li, Lujing
    (2013) A synchronic study of Yong’an Putonghua in Fujian. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Minzu University of China.
  25. Li, Rulong
    (1995) Minnan fangyan diqu de yuyan shenghuo. [The language situation in Southern Min-speaking regions]. Yuwen Yanjiu, 2, 34–37.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Liao, Rongrong , & Shi, Feng
    (1987) Hanyu putonghua r shengmu yinzhi de shiyan yanjiu. [An experimental study on the r initial in Putonghua ]. Yuyan Yanjiu, 2, 146–160.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Liao, Sze-wei
    (2010) Identity, ideology, and language variation: A sociolinguistic study of Mandarin in central Taiwan. Doctoral dissertation, University of California Davis.
  28. Lin, Chun-Chuang
    (1983) A sociolinguistic study of the use of the retroflex sounds in Mandarin in college students in Taiwan. Bulletin of the college arts and letters, national central university, 1, 1–15.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Lin, Wen , & Ji, Xin
    (2017, March 14) Shitongjiju fabu 2016nian xiamen changzhu renkou shuju [The municipal statistics bureau released the data on the permanent residency in Xiamen for 2016]. Xiamen Daily. Retrieved onJuly 25, 2017, fromepaper.xmnn.cn/xmrb/20170314/03.pdf
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Lin, Yen-Hwei
    (2007) The sounds of Chinese. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Liu, Xiayang
    (1999) Zhongguo Puji Putonghua Xianzhuang Fenxi [An analysis of Putonghua Promotion in China]. Zhongguo Renmin Daxue Xuebao, 6, 104–107.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Liu, Yongbing
    (2005) A pedagogy for digraphia: An analysis of the impact of Pinyin on literacy teaching in China and its implications for curricular and pedagogical innovations in a wider community. Language and Education, 19(5), 400–414.10.1080/09500780508668693
    https://doi.org/10.1080/09500780508668693 [Google Scholar]
  33. Ministry of Education of People’s Republic of China
    Ministry of Education of People’s Republic of China (1956) The instruction of Putonghua promotion from the State Council. Retrieved onJuly 25, 2017, fromwww.moe.edu.cn/publicfiles/business/htmlfiles/moe/moe_66/200408/573.html
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Nagy, Naomi, & Meyerhoff, Miriam
    (2008) Introduction: Social lives in language. InMiriam Meyerhoff & Naomi Nagy (Eds.), Social lives in language – Sociolinguistic and multilingual speech communities: Celebrating the work of Gillian Sankoff (pp.1–7). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. National Ministry of Education
    National Ministry of Education (2000) Xiaoxue Yuwen Jiaoxue Dagang [The Chinese Language Teaching Outline for Primary Schools]. Beijing: Renmin Jiaoyu Chubanshe.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Ni, Haishu
    (1983) “Nanyi xiangxin” – Dui Heilongjiangsheng Jinxing “Zhuyin Shizi Tiqian Duxie” Shiyan De Jiancha. [“Hard to believe” – An Investigation of “Zhuyin Shizi Tiqian Duxie” Experiment in Heilongjiang Province]. Renmin Jiaoyu, 10, 33–35.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Norman, Jerry
    (1988) Chinese. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Payne, Arvilla C.
    (1976) The acquisition of the phonological system of a second dialect. Doctoral dissertation, The University of Pennsylvania.
  39. (1980) Factors controlling the acquisition of the Philadelphia accent by out-of-state children. In William Labov (Ed.), Locating Language in Time and Space (pp.143–178). New York: Academic Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Qie, Yuanchun
    (2015) Sanshinian Lai Difang Putonghua Yanjiu Zongshu [A survey on thirty years of research on regional Mandarin]. Xiandai Yuwen, 6, 4–5.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. R Core Team
    R Core Team (2017) R: A language and environment for statistical computing (Version 3.4.0)Available fromhttps://www.R-project.org.
  42. Research Group on Migration to Xiamen and the Research on the Economic and Social Devleopment of Xiamen
    Research Group on Migration to Xiamen and the Research on the Economic and Social Devleopment of Xiamen (2003) Xiamenshi Wailai Renkou Zhuangkuai Yu Wailai Renkou Zhengce Quxiang [Migration to Xiamen and the tendency of migration policy in Xiamen. Xiamen Keji, 3, 45–47.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Reidy, Patrick F.
    (2015) The spectral dynamics of voiceless sibilant fricatives in English and Japanese. Doctoral dissertation, The Ohio State University.
  44. Song, Xinqiao
    (n.d.). Putonghua Yuyin Fenxi [Putonghua Phonetic Analysis]. Retrieved onJuly 25, 2017, fromwww.cltt.org/xuexiziyuan/2010053174.html.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. Stevens, Kenneth , Li, Zhiqiang , Lee, Chao-Yang , & Keyser, Samuel J.
    (2004) A note on Mandarin fricatives and enhancement. Gunnar Fant , Hiroya Fujisaki , Jianfen Cao , & Yi Xu (Eds.), From traditional phonology to modern speech processing (pp.393–403). Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  46. The Steering Group Office for Survey of Language Use in China
    The Steering Group Office for Survey of Language Use in China (2006) Zhongguo Yuyan Wenzi Shiyong Qingkuang Diaocha Ziliao [Findings and documents of survey of language situation in China]. Beijing: Yuwen Chubanshe.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Thomson, David J.
    (1982) Spectrum estimation and harmonic analysis. Proceedings of the IEEE, 70, 1055–1096.10.1109/PROC.1982.12433
    https://doi.org/10.1109/PROC.1982.12433 [Google Scholar]
  48. Thomason, Sarah Grey , & Kaufman, Terrence
    (1988) Language contact, creolization and genetic linguistics. University of California Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  49. Trudgill, Peter
    (1986) Dialects in contact. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  50. Tse, Holman
    (2016) Contact-induced splits in Toronto Heritage Cantonese mid-vowels. Linguistica Atlantica, 35(2), 133–155.
    [Google Scholar]
  51. Wang, Chaohui , & Yu, Jun
    (2012) Minnan Dushi Shehui De Yuyan Wenhua Shengtai Diaocha – Yi Xiamen Wei Ge’an. [The metropolis language and culture ecology investigation in Minnan – Taking Xiamen as the case]. Jiamusi Jiaoyu Xueyuan Xuebao, 11, 35–36.
    [Google Scholar]
  52. Wang, Li
    (2010) Min Fangyanqu Putonghua Zhongjieyu De Biaozheng [The discussion of characterization of Fujian Mandarin dialect of Putonghua interlanguage]. Journal of Sanming University, 27(1), 31–35.
    [Google Scholar]
  53. Warner, Natasha , & Tucker, Benjamin V.
    (2011) Phonetic variability of stops and flaps in spontaneous and careful speech. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 130(3), 1606–1617.10.1121/1.3621306
    https://doi.org/10.1121/1.3621306 [Google Scholar]
  54. Winford, Donald
    (2003) An introduction to contact linguistics. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
    [Google Scholar]
  55. Wu, Yirun , & Yin, Binyong
    (1985) Putonghua Shehui Diaocha – Xianzhuang He Qianjing [Putonghua Social Survey – Status Quo and Future]. Wenzi Gaige, 1, 37–38
    [Google Scholar]
  56. Wyld, Henry Cecil Kennedy
    (1936) A history of modern colloquial English. London: Basil Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  57. Lin, Wen , & Ji, Xin
    (2017, March 14) Shitongjiju fabu 2016nian xiamen changzhu renkou shuju [The municipal statistics bureau released the data on the permanent residency in Xiamen for 2016]. Xiamen Daily. Retrieved onJuly 25, 2017, fromepaper.xmnn.cn/xmrb/20170314/.
    [Google Scholar]
  58. Yang, Cathryn , Stanford, James N. , & Yang, Zhengyu
    (2015) A sociotonetic study of Lalo tone split in progress. Asia-Pacific Language Variation, 1(1), 52–77.10.1075/aplv.1.1.03yan
    https://doi.org/10.1075/aplv.1.1.03yan [Google Scholar]
  59. Zhou, Changji
    (1991) Minnanhua Yu Putonghua [Southern Min and Putonghua]. Beijing: Yuwen Chubanshe.
    [Google Scholar]
  60. Zhou, Minglang
    (2006) Theorizing language contact, spread, and variation in status planning: A case study of Modern Standard Chinese. Journal of Asian Pacific Communication, 16(2), 159–174.10.1075/japc.16.2.02zho
    https://doi.org/10.1075/japc.16.2.02zho [Google Scholar]
  61. Zhu, Liyi
    (2012) Retroflex and Non-retroflex Merger in Shanghai Accented Mandarin. Master’s thesis, University of Washington.
  62. Zhu, Zhaoxia , Liu, Li , Ding, Guosheng , & Peng, Danling
    (2009) Pinyin Shurufa Jingyan Dui Hanzi Zixing He Yuyin Jiagong De Yingxiang [The influence of Pinyin Typewriting Experience on Orthographic and Phonological Processing of Chinese Characters]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 41(9), 785–792.10.3724/SP.J.1041.2009.00785
    https://doi.org/10.3724/SP.J.1041.2009.00785 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error