A Spin to Preserve Contrast: Taiwanese Tone Sandhi

Lian Hee Wee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Chain shifts, particularly circular ones such as the tone sandhi of Taiwanese Min, are easy to describe but the phonological underpinnings are difficult to explain. This paper synthesises ideas of markedness and contrast preservation to propose that the Taiwanese Min tone circle might historically first have been triggered by a ban against contour tones in non-final positions. This sets Preserve Contrast off into a diachronic chain reaction to maintain underlying contrasts in surface forms. This eventually settles into the modern grammar as antifaithfulness. While the historical trigger is speculative, the analysis proposed in this paper does find indirect corroboration in production and “back-construction” experiments that would have otherwise yielded irreconcilable data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-29
Number of pages17
JournalStellenbosch Papers in Linguistics Plus
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jun 2020

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Language and Linguistics

User-Defined Keywords

  • Chain shift
  • Contour tones
  • Markedness
  • Preserve contrast
  • Taiwanese Min
  • Tone sandhi


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