Phonetically Identical Forms can Have Different Phonological Behaviors

Naiyan Du


There is a lot of research since at least mid-1980s documenting the effect of incomplete neutralization of phonological contrasts. Some researchers have taken this as evidence against traditional formal phonology where categorical phonological representation is assumed. By such way of using phonetic measurement to directly infer phonological representation, two assumptions have been made. First, phonetically different forms should be different in phonology; Second, phonetically identical forms should be identical in phonology. The first assumption has been largely undermined in the case of prosodic words lengthening in Japanese. It has been showed that although lengthened prosodic word has identical phonological behavior with their underlying counterpart in Japanese, their durations are significantly different. As an attempt to oppose the second assumption, the current study investigates Tone 4 Sandhi of Huai’an Mandarin. I show that although Lexically Derived Tone 3 is phonetically indistinguishable from Post-Lexically Derived Tone 3 with regard to F0, their phonological behaviors are different with regard to the ability to trigger another tone sandhi process. F0 is measured since it contains all critical phonetic cues that can distinguish Mandarin tones.


Phonology-Phonetics; Tone Sandhi; Huai'an Mandarin

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