Statistical modeling of application completeness of two tone sandhi rules

Si Chen, Bin Li

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This study examines the application of two Mandarin tone sandhi rules on real and wug words varying in degrees of phonological and semantic dependency. Using two statistical methods, we examined the surface f0 contours and underlying pitch targets. For the third tone sandhi, a lexical effect was discovered on the relationship between “word-likeness” of stimuli and completeness of rule application. The degree of application for the half-third sandhi tone, however, was less consistent. This study offers new insights in the debate between categorical and gradient views of sandhi rules. We propose three hypothesized situations and argue that the Mandarin tone sandhi rule application involves computation of sandhi forms, though it becomes more incomplete on wug words containing more illegitimate morphemes. Finally, between the two rules, the application of the third tone sandhi rule is less phonetically motivated and more biased in wug words, exhibiting differences between real words and wug words.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-141
Number of pages36
JournalJournal of Chinese Linguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Computation mechanism
  • Growth curve analysis
  • Mandarin tone sandhi
  • Underlying pitch target
  • Wug test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Linguistics and Language


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