Project Description

Author: Cathryn Donohue
Title: Fuzhou tonal acoustics and tonology

LINCOM GmbH (2013)

The Fuzhou variety of Chinese belongs to the Northern Min dialect group, spoken in the capital of Fujian province. It is known for its complex tonal system, ‘alternating’ vowels and complicated right dominant tone sandhi. However, previous descriptions have typically been based on auditory impressions of a single speaker. This study presents the first multi-speaker acoustic quantification of the citation tones in Fuzhou. Using two male and two female speakers, mean fundamental frequency and duration data for the citation tones are presented and discussed before the data is normalized across speakers to factor out any between-speaker variation. The physiology of tone production in Fuzhou is explored through amplitude measurements, indirectly assessing the possible role of vocal cord tension (VCT) and subglottal pressure (Ps) through application of the model presented in Monsen et al. (1978) which uses the Ishizaka-Flanagan two-mass model of vocal-fold vibration. In this study, both VCT and Ps were found to be equally important for tonal production. The tonal phonology of Fuzhou is also examined. First, two major studies are reviewed (Chan 1985 and Yip 1980). Finally, new data for the disyllabic tone sandhi from the same four speakers is presented and analyses in two different approaches – an autosegmental approach and an approach using traditional Chinese tonal categories – are explored and compared. All the data from the study are presented in the appendices.