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Title:Tone Change in Cantonese
Author(s):Wong, Maurice Kuen-Shing
Department / Program:Linguistics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Language, Linguistics
Abstract:The phenomenon known as bianyin, or 'tone change', in Cantonese as spoken in Hong Kong and Guangzhou, China involves an alternation between any of the six non-high tones and the high rising tone--or, for a very limited number of morphemes, the high level tone. This study gives an analytical account of the various types of tone change from both the synchronic and diachronic perspectives. After a description of the tone alternations, the Cantonese syllable and tone in Chapter 1, Chapter 2 works out an analysis of the regular cases and proposes an assimilation rule and a deletion rule in the synchronic grammar of Cantonese. Chapter 3 discusses the irregular cases of tone change and the various general tendencies, semantic and morphological, that favor the occurrence of the changed tone. Chapter 4, bringing in comparative evidence from Taishan, Bobai, Mandarin and other dialects, presents the hypothesis that the changed tone historically derived from {ji55}- and {tsi35}-suffixation, and the diachronic changes involved are similar to the synchronic rules that account for the regular cases. Chapter 5 presents a quantitative analysis of all Cantonese morphemes that can undergo tone change. With the aid of the Dictionary on Computer (compiled by William S-Y. Wang and his associates), it is found that there are phonetic tendencies that favor tone change--namely, low tones favor tone change more than the mid tone, and low rising tone favors tone change (to a high rising tone) more than the other two low tones; and possibly also, long vowels favor tone change more than short vowels, and non-high vowels favor tone change more than high vowels. Chapter 6, based on William Labov's sociolinguistic studies of synchronic variations within a speech community, presents a quantitative analysis of data elicited under different stylistic contexts. The results show that the optional changed tone occurs more frequently in informal styles than in formal styles, and its occurrence is governed by a hierarchy of constraints similar to the phonetic tendencies found in the implementation of the diachronic change across the lexicon. Chapter 7 concludes the study with a discussion of the implications of the findings on theories of linguistic change.
Issue Date:1982
Description:204 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1982.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8218592
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1982

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