Speaker: Prof. Mok Pik Ki, Peggy (Department of Linguistics & Modern Languages)
Date: 6 December 2013 (Fri)
Time: 4:00pm
Venue: Arts and Humanities Hub, G24, Fung King Hey Building, CUHK
Language: English
Abstract: Language is a dynamic system which evolves over time. The Cantonese sound system has been undergoing many changes in recent years, but most previous studies have been on consonantal changes. Cantonese has six lexical tones, but some tone pairs appear to be merging. Only very few studies have investigated this phenomenon with limited data. The current study investigated both the production and perception of this phenomenon by screening a large number of speakers. Results show that the merging speakers still had six tone categories in production, although their tones were less distinct. The merging speakers were also significantly slower in tone perception than the non-merging speakers were, which indicates that their non-canonical tone production is not due to ‘laziness’ as perceived by the public. In addition to linguistic factors, the dynamic demographic composition and language contact in Hong Kong over the past 60 years may be one of the reasons triggering the merging of tones.

 

tone merging in hong kong cantonese 1  tone merging in hong kong cantonese 2

 

For the powerpoint presentation of the talk, please click here