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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."


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Academic Paper


Title: Acquisition of weak syllables in tonal languages: acoustic evidence from neutral tone in Mandarin Chinese
Author: Ping Tang
Author: Ivan Yuen
Author: Nan Rattanasone
Author: Liqun Gao
Author: Katherine Demuth
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Phonology
Subject Language: Chinese, Mandarin
Abstract: Weak syllables in Germanic and Romance languages have been reported to be challenging for young children, with syllable omission and/or incomplete reduction persisting till age five. In Mandarin Chinese, neutral tone (T0) involves a weak syllable with varied pitch realizations across (preceding) tonal contexts and short duration. The present study examined how and when T0 was acquired by 108 Beijing Mandarin-speaking children (3–5 years) relative to 33 adult controls. Lexicalized (familiar) and non-lexicalized (unfamiliar) T0 words were elicited in different preceding tonal contexts. Unlike previous reports, the present study revealed that children as young as three years have already developed a phonological category for T0, exhibiting contextually conditioned tonal realizations of T0 for both familiar and unfamiliar items. However, mastery of adult-like pitch and duration implementation of T0 is a protracted process not completed until age five. The implications for the acquisition of weak syllables more generally are discussed.

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This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 46, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site .

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