On the nature of Mandarin tone and tone sandhi

Date

2018-07-05

Authors

Lin, Hua

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Abstract

Traditional representations of Mandarin tones have provided valuable descriptions of Mandarin tone sandhi processes. However, none of them has been able to associate these processes in a principled way, or to explain why they occur at all. In contrast, I have proposed in this dissertation a unified analysis of Mandarin tones and tone sandhi, with an emphasis on the revelation of the nature of these tones and processes. Specifically, I have found that Mandarin tones are most optimally represented as follows: (0.1) [special characters omitted] Under such a representation, all Mandarin tone sandhi processes (i.e. the second, third, and fourth tone sandhi processes, and the neutral tone sandhi process that has been uncovered in this study) can be uniformly accounted for by the following Tone Reduction Principle: (0.2). Tone Reduction Principle Clause A: In normal speech, reduce a tone by one toneme iff it is immediately followed by another tone within the same prosodic foot. Clause B: In fast speech, reduce a tone by one toneme iff it is immediately preceded by another tone, and at the same time immediately followed by another tone within the same prosodic foot. This tone reduction principle functions to shorten a tone in duration by the following implementation rules: (0.3) [special characters omitted] With these two rules, Mandarin tone sandhi processes can be described by the following derivations: (0.4) [special characters omitted] While the implementation riles in (0.3) produce grammatical results in all other cases, they yield outputs, in the cases of 3TS(B) and 0TS, that violate the following OCP related, Mandarin specific WFC: [special characters omitted] Therefore, these two outputs obligatorily undergo the following OCP repairs ((a) for 3TS and (b) for 0TS): [special characters omitted] In brief, all the Mandarin tone sandhi processes are fundamentally tone reduction processes, the results of which may be subjected to further modification should they turn out to be violations of certain WFCs. In addition to the rules and derivations presented above, the analysis proposed also contains a theory of tonemes as timing units, a theory of Mandarin syllable weight and quantity, and a theory of the diachronic implications of the analysis.

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Keywords

Mandarin dialects, Chinese language, Sandhi

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