Tonal Hybridization in Yami-Mandarin Contact

Li-Fang Lai, Shelome Gooden


Yami, an endangered Austronesian language spoken on Orchid Island in Taiwan has been under heavy influence from Mandarin for several decades. In the current linguistic ecology, the pressure of Mandarin on Yami is increasing and its influence has been reported in Yami intonation. This study, on the flip side, examines whether Yami influence has also diffused through the Mandarin spoken on Orchid Island. Taiwan Mandarin speakers make a three-way distinction in sentence intonation: (1) falling statements, (2) level neutral questions and statement questions conveying lighter incredulity, and (3) high-rising default statement questions. Orchid Islanders showed deviation in their default statement question intonation by using a high-level intonation. Interestingly, we observed two hybridization patterns in Yami-Mandarin bilingual intonation: one that fuses Yami phono-syntax with Mandarin intonation in Orchid Island Mandarin, and one that incorporates Mandarin phono-syntax with Yami intonation in young islanders' Yami speech. This provides crucial evidence showing that in addition to the overwhelming phenomenon of transfer/borrowing, speakers may combine discrete (sub)strates from different sources. If the innovative, hybrid pattern continues, present-day Yami intonation may evolve over time into a newly-styled system.


 DOI: 10.21437/TAL.2018-7

Cite as: Lai, L., Gooden, S. (2018) Tonal Hybridization in Yami-Mandarin Contact. Proc. TAL2018, Sixth International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages, 32-36, DOI: 10.21437/TAL.2018-7.


@inproceedings{Lai2018,
  author={ Li-Fang Lai and Shelome Gooden},
  title={ Tonal Hybridization in Yami-Mandarin Contact},
  year=2018,
  booktitle={Proc. TAL2018, Sixth International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages},
  pages={32--36},
  doi={10.21437/TAL.2018-7},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/TAL.2018-7}
}