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Academic Paper

Title: The phonological determinants of tone in English loanwords in Mandarin
Author: Eleanor Glewwe
Linguistic Field: Phonology
Subject Language: Chinese, Mandarin
Abstract: This paper presents the results of a corpus study and an online loanword adaptation experiment examining the tonal adaptation of English loanwords in Mandarin. Using maximum entropy models, I control for the substantial influences of lexical tone distributions and standardisation, and uncover phonological determinants of tone beyond these lexical and conventional factors. The most important phonological determinant of tone in the corpus was English voicing, while in the experiment it was English stress-aligned pitch contours. I argue that these distinct tonal adaptation patterns constitute two different perceptual mappings, one from F0 perturbations to tone and the other from English intonation to tone, both arising due to particular borrowing contexts. I suggest that increasingly close contact between English and Mandarin may lead to more intonation-driven tonal adaptation in the latest wave of borrowing. The maximum entropy approach holds promise for the analysis of complex cases of tonal adaptation in other languages.


This article appears IN Phonology Vol. 38, Issue 2, which you can READ on Cambridge's site .

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