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date: 18 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Chinese is a tone language. Within its hundreds of geographical varieties, the tonal systems differ in the number of tonal categories and tonal elements. In the Simple Tonal System, which usually has four or fewer tonal categories like those in most of the Mandarin varieties, pitch alone determines the tonal contrast. When a simple system contains more than four tones, length may also involve in tonal differentiation as in Cantonese, Hakka, and Qinjin and Jianghuai Mandarin. In the Complex Tonal System, however (e.g., Wu, Gan, and Xiang, as well as Tai-Kadai, Miao-Yao, Tibeto-Burman languages), not only pitch and length but also register (defined by phonation types) participates in tonal contrast. Besides a general profile of Chinese tones, this chapter also introduces the studies on the tonal nature, types, and representation, and the relevant studies such as tone change in connected speech and the emergence of tone.

Keywords: tone, pitch, register, length, phonation types, tonal representation

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