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The phonology of present—day Cantonese

Cheung, K.-H.; (1986) The phonology of present—day Cantonese. Doctoral thesis, University of London. Green open access

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This thesis describes the phonology of present-day Cantonese. In addition to tone, onset and rime, the thesis also covers realization, variation, casual speech and intonation. A separate chapter considers the syllable as a whole. With sympathetic understanding, the thesis reviews previous work on the subject. In doing so, it tries to provide principled answers to the questions how and why Cantonese phonologies differ. In its own treatment of the subject, it benefits from indigenous Chinese phonology, classical phonemics, Firthian prosodic phonology, SPE phonology, and autosegmental phonology, as well as European structuralism, while dismissing the time-honoured principle of unilinear phoneme-size segmentation as inappropriate for Cantonese. The mora is introduced into the organization of Cantonese sounds. The descriptive device of autosegmental phonology enables us to consider morae as "autosegments", thereby capturing a number of regularities which are otherwise difficult to characterize elegantly. Another innovation in the thesis is the idea of "coercion", a process whereby uncanonical phonetic forms, which arise as the output of casual speech processes, are replaced by canonical forms. The mora, coercion, and autosegmental representations together account for a good deal of lower-level regularities, especially in casual, connected speech. They also contribute to understanding the discrepancies among different phonologies of Cantonese. By enabling a dynamic and holistic view of the organization of Cantonese sounds, they cast light on the static and fragmentary nature of many prevailing views on the subject.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:The phonology of present—day Cantonese
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Additional information:Thesis digitised by British Library EThOS
UCL classification:UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Psychology and Language Sciences (Division of)
UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Psychology and Language Sciences (Division of) > Speech, Hearing and Phonetic Sciences

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