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The Decline of [ǝ], [ɨ] and the Restructuring of the Vowel System of Old Tong’an-Based Southern Min in Hsinchu

Vol. 49 No. 3  9/2019

 

Title

The Decline of [ǝ], [ɨ] and the Restructuring of the Vowel System of Old Tong’an-Based Southern Min in Hsinchu

Author

Chen Shu-chuan

Genre

Article

Pages

545-576

DOI

10.6503/THJCS.201909_49(3).0005

Download

PDF

Language

Chinese

Key words

Old Tong’an 老同安-based dialect, central vowels, vowel system, language contact, Hsinchu Quanzhou-based dialect

Abstract

This study investigates Old Tong’an 老同安-based Southern Min in Hsinchu city and Xinfeng Hongmaogang 新豐紅毛港. Despite both being Quanzhou-based dialect areas, evidence shows that various factors differentiate the decline of the central vowels [ǝ] and [ɨ] in the two regions. In Xinfeng Hongmaogang, [ǝ] in some rhyme groups is preserved much better than [ɨ], which conforms to the trend of world vowel development.  However, in Hsinchu city, [ǝ] disappeared earlier than [ɨ]. Three factors favor this [ɨ] against decline.  First, in comparison to [ǝ], which is used only in colloquial readings, the vowel [ɨ], which is rooted in both literary and colloquial readings of the dialect pronunciations, has greater resistance against pressure from other prestige dialect variations. Second, influence from Mandarin pronunciation also contributes to the preservation of [ɨ] in theJu/Ju literary rhyme group. Third, in order to avoid the confusion of [ɤ] in the Dao/Gao colloquial 刀高 rhyme group with the Old Quan mid vowel [ǝ], [ǝ] disappeared much faster than [ɨ] in Hsinchu city. In addition, due to the decline of the two mid vowels within the asymmetric structure, the six-vowel system in the two regions has been restructured. Language contact drives the systematic transition to /i, e, a, u, ɤ, ɔ/ in Hsinchu city, while the vowel system in Xinfeng Hongmaogang converges to a five-vowel one (/i, e, a, u, ɔ/).

 

Author: Chen Shu-chuan
Genre: Article
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