Tonal processes conditioned by morphosyntax

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Tone in Chinese languages is distinct in two aspects: (i) the complexity in the tonal make-up and (ii) widespread sandhi. The former is often attributed to underlying complexity in tonal inventories and the latter to triggers immediately adjacent to the sandhi site. Morphosyntax, though highly relevant, is often left unarticulated in the description of tonal inventories and processes. This chapter unravels four major aspects in which morphosyntax condition tonal processes (a) the licensing and/or generation of tonal contours, (b) the neutralization of tone, (c) the triggering and blocking of sandhi; and (d) the impact on tonal prosody. While phonological patterns in other languages are sensitive to the word- and post-lexical levels divide, it is the structural constituency that is often more relevant than syntactic category in Chinese tonal processes. Lest one overstates the power of morphosyntax, note also that morphosyntactic conditioning of tonal processes is likely mediated through alignment and interface with prosody structure. Thus morphosyntax plays not a deterministic role, but a substantially contributive one in the intricacies of tonal processes in Chinese.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Handbook of Chinese Linguistics
EditorsChu-Ren Huang, Yen-Hwei Lin, I-Hsuan Chen, Yu-Yin Hsu
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781108329019
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2022

Publication series

NameCambridge Handbooks in Language and Linguistics

User-Defined Keywords

  • tone
  • sandhi
  • morphosyntax
  • interface
  • alignment


Dive into the research topics of 'Tonal processes conditioned by morphosyntax'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this