Language Contact with Chinese
  • ISSN 0920-9034
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9870
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This paper, based on Chinese and Uyghur language contact data collected through fieldwork, discusses in detail Uyghur speakers’ acquisition of Mandarin tones. Uyghur speakers map the three native pitch accents from the Uyghur prosodic system, i.e. level, rise, and fall, to the four Mandarin tones. Initially, this mapping is random. As Chinese proficiency improves, the accent-tone mapping becomes stable. The pace, however, is not uniform for the four tones, due to competition among the three accents to map unto a given Mandarin tone. After accent-tone mapping becomes stable, the mapped accents will gradually approximate towards their target tones in pitch value, again at an uneven pace. This quantitative study reveals a two-step process in the emergence of Uyghur Chinese tones: (1) the phonological step of accent-tone mapping involving tonal categories, (2) the phonetic approximation to tonal target. A Uyghur accent does not map directly to a superficially similar tone based on pitch value.


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