Volume 4, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2213-8706
  • E-ISSN: 2213-8714
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This study illustrates how three level tones might have developed diachronically by comparing two synchronic Mandarin dialects. In Standard Mandarin (SM), the four lexical tones are denoted as /H, LH, L, HL/ or /H, R, L, F/ phonologically. However, based on evidence from two acoustic experiments, this study proposes that the four lexical tones in Taiwan Mandarin (TM) should be analyzed as /H, M, L, HM/, with /H, HM/ in a high register and /M, L/ in a low register. The proposed tonal structure can account for all the tone sandhi in TM using the framework of Optimality theory, and the register difference plays an important role in the analyses. Also, the new TM tonal representation has an advantage in explaining the absence of the SM Tone 2 Sandhi. The new tonal representations illuminate how pitch contour differences might have developed into structural tone changes.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): contour variations; Taiwan Mandarin; tonal representation; tone; tone change; tone sandhi
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