Volume 5, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2215-1354
  • E-ISSN: 2215-1362
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



This paper addresses Labov’s principles of vowel chain shifting in Toronto and Hong Kong Cantonese based on sociolinguistic interviews from the Heritage Language Variation and Change in Toronto Project. The analysis is based on normalized F1 and F2 values of 33,179 vowel tokens from 11 monophthongs produced by 32 speakers (8 from Hong Kong, 24 from Toronto). In Toronto, results show retraction of [y] by generation but fronting of [i] by age. In Hong Kong, age is a significant predictor for the lowering of [ɪ], [ʊ], [ɔ], and for the fronting of [ɔ] and [i]. Overall, there is more vowel shifting in Hong Kong than in Toronto and the shifting is consistent with Labov’s Principles.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Barrie, Michael
    (2003) Contrast in Cantonese vowels. Toronto Working Papers in Linguistics, 20, 1–19.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Bauer, Robert S. , & Benedict, Paul K.
    (1997) Modern Cantonese phonology. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110823707
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110823707 [Google Scholar]
  3. Boersma, Paul , & Weenink, David
    (2016) Praat: Doing phonetics by computer [Computer program] (Version 6.0.15). Retrieved fromwww.praat.org/
  4. Census and Statistics Department, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
    Census and Statistics Department, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (2016) Thematic household survey report no. 59 (p.171). Hong Kong. Retrieved fromhttps://www.statistics.gov.hk/pub/B11302592016XXXXB0100.pdf
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Gorman, Kyle , Howell, Jonathan , & Wagner, Michael
    (2011) Prosodylab-aligner: A tool for forced alignment of laboratory speech. Canadian Acoustics, 39(3), 192–193.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Johnson, Daniel E.
    (2009) Getting off the GoldVarb Standard: Introducing Rbrul for Mixed-Effects Variable Rule Analysis. Language and Linguistics Compass, 3(1), 359–383. 10.1111/j.1749‑818X.2008.00108.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-818X.2008.00108.x [Google Scholar]
  7. Labov, William
    (1984) Field methods of the project on linguistic change and variation. In John Baugh & Joel Sherzer (Eds.), Language in use: readings in sociolinguistics (pp.28–53). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. (1994) Principles of linguistic change. Volume 1: Internal factors. Oxford/Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. (2011) Principles of linguistic change. Volume 3: Cognitive and cultural factors. Oxford/Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Lau, Chun-Fat
    (2003) Labovian principles of vowel shifting revisited: The short vowel shift in New Zealand English and southern Chinese. In Barry J. Blake & Kate Burridge (Eds.), Historical linguistics 2001: Selected papers from the 15th International Conference on Historical Linguistics, Melbourne, 13–17 August 2001 (pp.293–301). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Lee, Thomas
    (1983) The vowel system in two varieties of Cantonese. UCLA Working Papers in Phonetics, 57, 97–114.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Matthews, Stephen , & Yip, Virginia
    (2011) Cantonese: A comprehensive grammar. (2nd edition). London/New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Nagy, Naomi
    (2011) A multilingual corpus to explore variation in language contact situations. Rassegna Iitaliana di Linguistica Applicata, 43(1/2), 65–84.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Peters, Andrew , & Tse, Holman
    (2016) Evaluating the efficacy of Prosody-lab Aligner for a study of vowel variation in Cantonese. Presented at theworkshop on Innovations in Cantonese Linguistics (WICL-3), the Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Sloetjes, Han , & Wittenburg, Peter
    (2008) Annotation by category – ELAN and ISO DCR. Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC 2008), (pp.816–820).
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Statistics Canada
    Statistics Canada (2017) Toronto, C [Census subdivision], Ontario and Canada [Country] (table). Census Profile. 2016 Census. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 98-316-X2016001. Ottawa. Retrieved fromhttps://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/dp-pd/prof/index.cfm?Lang=E
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Thomas, Erik , & Kendall, Thomas
    (2007) NORM: The vowel normalization and plotting suite. Retrieved fromlingtools.uoregon.edu/norm/norm1.php
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Tse, Holman
    (2016a) Contact-induced splits in Toronto Heritage Cantonese mid-vowels. Linguistics Atlantica, 35(2), 133–155.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. (2016b) Variation and change in Toronto heritage Cantonese: An analysis of two monophthongs across two generations. Asia Pacific Language Variation, 2(2), 124–156. 10.1075/aplv.2.2.02tse
    https://doi.org/10.1075/aplv.2.2.02tse [Google Scholar]
  20. (2019) Beyond the monolingual core and out into the wild: A variationist study of early bilingualism and sound change in Toronto heritage Cantonese. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Pittsburgh.
  21. Yip, Moira
    (1996) Lexicon optimization in languages without alternations. Rutgers Optimality Archive. doi:  10.7282/T33X84P0
    https://doi.org/10.7282/T33X84P0 [Google Scholar]
  22. Yu, Dominic
    (2000) The underlying representation of Cantonese vowels. Unpublished Undergraduate Honors Thesis, Stanford University.
  23. Yue-Hashimoto, Anne Oi-kan
    (1972) Phonology of Cantonese. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. (1991) The Yue dialects. Languages and dialects of China. Journal of Chinese Linguistics Monograph Series, 3, 294–324.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Zee, Eric
    (1999) Chinese (Hong Kong Cantonese). InHandbook of the International Phonetic Association: A guide to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet (pp.58–60). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. (2003) Frequency analysis of the vowels in Cantonese from 50 male and 50 female speakers. InProceedings of the 15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (pp.1117–1120). Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona Barcelona. Retrieved fromhttps://www.​internationalphoneticassociation.org/icphs-proceedings/ICPhS2003/papers/p15_1117.​pdf
    [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