On the Left-/Right-Branching Asymmetry in Mandarin Tone 3 Sandhi


  • Fulang Chen MIT




Mandarin, Tone, Sandhi, Match Theory


In Mandarin, a left-/right-branching asymmetry is observed when the Tone 3 Sandhi (T3S) process interacts with the syntactic structure of an expression: while expressions that have a left-branching syntactic structure only have a non-alternating sandhi pattern in which all but the rightmost T3 is changed to the sandhi tone, for expressions that have a right-branching syntactic structure various sandhi patterns are possible. This paper proposes that T3S applies cyclically bottom-up on a prosodic structure matched from the syntactic structure of an expression, along the lines of the Match Theory of syntactic-prosodic constituency correspondence (Selkirk 2011). The interaction of Match Phrase constraints and Strong Strong Start, which is a more restricted version of Selkirk’s (2011) Strong Start constraint, predicts that different prosodic structures are possible outputs for a right-branching expression, while for a left-branching expression the only possible output is a left-branching prosodic structure. The various possible sandhi patterns for a right-branching expression and the non-alternating sandhi pattern for a left-branching expression are derived when T3S applies cyclically bottom-up on the proposed prosodic structures.