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Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies
ISSN 0577-9170; DOI 10.6503/THJCS


A Concept-Formation Experiment on the Sub-syllabic Units of Taiwan Min

Vol. 27 No. 1   6/1997  


A Concept-Formation Experiment on the Sub-syllabic Units of Taiwan Min


H. Samuel Wang









Key words

Taiwan Min, sub-syllabic units, concept formation experiment


      The study uses the concept formation technique to investigate the subsyllabic units of Taiwan Min to see whether the ‘ onset-rhyme’ structure assumed by traditional Chinese linguists or the ‘ body-coda’ structure is realized by Taiwan Minusers. Army recruits and college students were used as subject. Each subject was randomly assigned to one of eight test conditions: rhyme, body, onset, coda, nucleustone, nucleus and tone, and margins. The test was divided into three parts. In the first part, the subjects were tested whether they differentiate sounds in different places of the syllable. In the second part, the subjects were to form the concept [ki55] in sandhi positionwhich is actually [ki55] to get familiarized with the concept formation experiment. The third part was the main test which contained 100 times. Among these stimulus items half of them50 itemswere positive tokens and the other half negative tokens. The subjects were to form the required concept within these 100 items. The assumption was that if the speaker had one of the concept in mind., the concept should be much more easily realized than others.

    The results showed that the eight concepts were not significantly different. That means the subjects did not show realization of sub- syllabic units in the test. But among these eight test conditions, we found that the concept ‘ nucleus and tone’i.e.[a51] fared better than either ‘nucleus’ alonei.e.[a]or ‘tone’ alonei.e.[51]. The phenomenon is rather difficult to understand from an analytic point of view. We suggest from a ‘connectionist’ point of view that the speakers first phonetic establish relationship among syllables before they realize the component parts of the syllables. The concept ‘nucleus and to n’ is thus more easily realized than the more abstract unit ‘nucleus’ or ‘tone’. That is to say, the subjects realized the syllables as a whole before they realized the component parts.



Author: H. Samuel Wang
Genre: Article
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