Tone patterns of Kelantan Hokkien and related issues in Southern Min tonology

Alan Lee, University of Pennsylvania


This dissertation examines the tones and tonal patterns of Kelantan Hokkien, a dialect of Southern Min Chinese primarily spoken by immigrant Chinese minorities in the northern regions of Peninsular Malaysia. By extension, this work also discusses various tonological issues in Southern Min in comparison with the patterns seen in Kelantan Hokkien. This work is therefore of a descriptive and comparative nature. In Chapter 1, the social and linguistic situation of the Kelantan Hokkien speech community is described. The chapter also introduces the Fujian Southern Min dialect group - a cluster of Chinese dialects spoken in Fujian and Taiwan - to which Kelantan Hokkien belong. The place of the Fujian Southern Min dialects within the Min language family as well as within the Sino-Tibetan supergroup is also illustrated. Chapter 2 presents the phonological transcriptions of the citation and sandhi tones of Kelantan Hokkien along with the acoustic measurements obtained through recordings of native speakers. In Chapter 3, an attempt is made to classify Kelantan Hokkien within Fujian Southern Min. Based on the comparative data of the tone patterns of 20 Fujian Southern Min dialects, a series of historical tone changes is proposed. The tone changes are used as the basis for classifying the tonal patterns of Fujian Southern Min dialects into two primary subgroups: a Northern Cluster and a Southern Cluster. Within the Southern Cluster, a Transition Zone, which shares some of the characteristics of the Northern Cluster, is distinguished from a Strictly Southern Cluster. It is proposed that Kelantan Hokkien belongs to the Strictly Southern Cluster. Chapter 4 analyzes the formation of tone group domains - sequences of sandhi tones bounded on the right by a citation tone. The tone group domains of Kelantan Hokkien are shown to be similar to an extent to the well-studied Xiamen dialect, but citation tones occur more frequently in Kelantan Hokkien. A revised analysis of tone group formation to cover both the Kelantan Hokkien and Xiamen data is proposed, where tone group domains are built from predicate-argument structure. Chapter 5 presents a brief summary and various proposals for future research.

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Recommended Citation

Lee, Alan, "Tone patterns of Kelantan Hokkien and related issues in Southern Min tonology" (2005). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3197700.