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date: 23 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter introduces key analyses to Chinese phonology: syllable structure, segmental allophony, and tone. Chinese syllables maximally consist (Consonant)-(Glide)-Vowel-(Consonant), where the elements in the parentheses are optional. Debates concerning the affiliation of Glide suggest that dialects differ in syllable structures, while the violation of (C)(G)V(C) in er-affixation indicates that morphological operations may override the phonological templatic constraint. In some Chinese dialects, the mid-vowels [e, o, ɔ, e, ɛ, ə] are complementary and can be analyzed as a single phoneme though the complex complementarity of high vowel [i] and the so-called apical vowels in Standard Chinese remains a challenge to phonological analyses embracing the phoneme concept. Chinese languages are also characterized by tones, which may undergo various forms of sandhi (i.e., alternation), giving rise to such patterns as directionality of rule application, chain-shifting, and the emergence of word-level tone and neutral tones, etc.

Keywords: phonology, syllable, alternation, tone, sandhi, Chinese languages

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