Seven-year-olds reach an adult-like productivity in the application of Mandarin tone sandhi

Xunan Huang, Yu Zuo, Caicai Zhang

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingConference article published in proceeding or bookAcademic researchpeer-review


The application of Mandarin Tone 3 (T3) sandhi is highly productive in pseudo-words in Mandarin adult speakers. However, it remains unknown when the pattern becomes productive in Mandarin-speaking children. Children’s acquisition of T3 sandhi has been found to undergo a gradual transformation from a rote-memory lexical mechanism to a computationbased productive mechanism, and their productivity hasn’t reached the adult-like level at age 6. To find out when the children would enter the adult-like level, this study examined the speech productions of 7- and 8-year-old Mandarin-speaking children and adults in real words and two types of pseudo-words. The results showed that 7- and 8-year-old children applied the tone sandhi pattern similarly to adults in both real and pseudo-words. This may indicate the full utilization of a computation-based productive mechanism in the production of Mandarin T3 sandhi in 7-year-olds.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 19th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences
EditorsSasha Calhoun, Paola Escudero, Marija Tabian, Paul Warren
PublisherAustralasian Speech Science and Technology Association Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-646-80069-1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2019


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