The Paradox of Hakka Tone Sandhi

Matthew Y. Chen, Lian Hee Wee, Xiuhong Yan

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapter


The Hakka dialect of Changting, China, exhibits extraordinarily intricate tone sandhi phenomena that present a formidable analytical challenge for any theoretical model. The problem is not unlike what one encounters in rudimentary arithmetic. The value of 2 + 3 x 4 depends on whether addition or multiplication comes first:

2 + (3 x 4) = 14
(2 + 3) x 4 = 20

The ultimate outcome is determined by the orderly combination of the elementary operations. Likewise, given a tonal sequence/ABC/, the phonetic form is predictable from the elementary sandhi rules that operate on either AB, then BC, or vice versa. In this paper we offer a fair sample of the empirical facts instantiating this "directionality" effect (to use an orthographic metaphor), and investigate the various logistic moves both Optimality Theory and conventional rule-based derivational model could make to render an account of the attested facts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInterfaces in Chinese phonology: Festschrift in honor of Matthew Y. Chen on his 70th birthday = 漢語音韻介面: 陳淵泉先生七秩壽慶論文集
EditorsYuchau E. Hsiao, Hui Chuan Hsu, Lian Hee Wee, Dah An Ho
Number of pages45
ISBN (Print)9789860150216
Publication statusPublished - 28 Dec 2008

Publication series


User-Defined Keywords

  • directionality
  • tone sandhi
  • Optimality Theory
  • Changting Hakka


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