5th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing

Sydney, Australia
November 30 - December 4, 1998

Tonal Complexity as a Dialectal Feature: 25 Different Citation Tones from Four Zhejiang Wu Dialects

Xiaonong Sean Zhu, Phil Rose

Department of Linguistics (Arts), Australian National University, Australia

The Wu dialects of East-Central China are notorious for their tone sandhi, which is said to be the most complex in the world. This paper demonstrates that tonological complexity in Wu is not confined to tone sandhi, but is manifested also in citation tones. These show a both a large (7 - 8) number of contrasts and a very high percentage of contour and complex tones. Acoustic and auditory data are presented from an ongoing large-scale investigation into the tones and tone sandhi of the Wu dialects of Zhejiang province in East Central China. The citation tones from 4 sites (3 hitherto undescribed) in the little known Central Zhejiang area are described: Pujiang, Tonglu, Shengxian and Tiantai. Mean F0 and duration data are presented for the tones of these dialects. The data demonstrate a high degree of complexity, having no less than 25 Linguistic-tonetically different tones, including 3 different falling tones, and 4 different falling-level tones. The nature of the complexity of these forms is analysed.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Zhu, Sean Xiaonong / Rose, Phil (1998): "Tonal complexity as a dialectal feature: 25 different citation tones from four zhejiang wu dialects", In ICSLP-1998, paper 0299.