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Path of Vowel Raising in Chengdu Dialect of Mandarin

by   Hai Hu, et al.

He and Rao (2013) reported a raising phenomenon of /a/ in /Xan/ (X being a consonant or a vowel) in Chengdu dialect of Mandarin, i.e. /a/ is realized as [epsilon] for young speakers but [ae] for older speakers, but they offered no acoustic analysis. We designed an acoustic study that examined the realization of /Xan/ in speakers of different age (old vs. young) and gender (male vs. female) groups, where X represents three conditions: 1) unaspirated consonants: C ([p], [t], [k]), 2) aspirated consonants: Ch ([ph], [th], [kh]), and 3) high vowels: V ([i], [y], [u]). 17 native speakers were asked to read /Xan/ characters and the F1 values are extracted for comparison. Our results confirmed the raising effect in He and Rao (2013), i.e., young speakers realize /a/ as [epsilon] in /an/, whereas older speakers in the most part realize it as [ae]. Also, female speakers raise more than male speakers within the same age group. Interestingly, within the /Van/ condition, older speakers do raise /a/ in /ian/ and /yan/. We interpret this as /a/ first assimilates to its preceding front high vowels /i/ and /y/ for older speakers, which then becomes phonologized in younger speakers in all conditions, including /Chan/ and /Can/. This shows a possible trajectory of the ongoing sound change in the Chengdu dialect.


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