Migration, local identity and change in Tianjin tone sandhi

Xiaomei Wang


Four variable disyllabic tone sandhi patterns are traditionally identified in Tianjin (Li & Liu 1985). The present study focuses on two of these tone sandhi variables, referred to as (FF) and (FL) after their input patterns of ‘falling falling’ (HL.HL) and ‘falling low’ (HL.LL) respectively. The data are drawn from 76 sociolinguistic interviews conducted in Tianjin in 2014-16. In line with other reports (Shi & Wang 2004, Gao & Lu 2003), the study indicates that (FF) has decreased in frequency over time, while (FL) has increased in frequency. But the social motivations for the rise and the decline of these variables have not previously been investigated. I propose that the social motivations of the changes might be interaction of Standardization and Tianjin community’s effort to keep local identity, especially at the period when a large number of migrants rushed into the city. (FF) displays a linear decrease of the local variant in apparent time, probably due to its status as a stereotype (Labov, 1972) of ‘old-fashioned’ Tianjin identity and speech (Han 1993). Different from (FF), (FL) has never been stigmatized, so it is available for ‘recycling’ (Dubois & Horvath 2000) as a positive marker (Labov, 1972) of ‘new’ Tianjin identity.


Tianjin tone sandhi; migration; local identity; Standardization

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3765/plsa.v2i0.4095

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