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Language and Development in Africa

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Academic Paper


Title: Monosyllabic word merger in Mandarin
Author: Shu-chuan Tseng
Institution: Academia Sinica
Linguistic Field: Phonology
Abstract: Spoken language reduction in spontaneous speech constitutes an important part of the process of language change. Utilizing a Mandarin corpus, this article examines monosyllabic word merger with pronouns in the first syllable position. The shortened form marks a respective vocalic or consonantal element stemming from the source syllables. This article proposes that there exists a target syllable for a pair of monosyllabic words, but it is not unique. Depending on the syllable structure of the source syllables, different lines of developments of target syllables are possible. When the combination of the source syllables allows a development into a well-formed Mandarin syllable, the output is a good candidate for a coalescent compound. Furthermore, when the immediately neighboring vocalic parts constitute a front-back contrast or they are identical, it is likely that word merger is produced. Durational results also show that a monosyllabic word merger is usually longer than a single syllable.

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This article appears IN Language Variation and Change Vol. 17, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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