Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group


First Advisor

Mark Liberman


This dissertation investigates various aspects of the tone sandhi phenomena in Taiwan Southern Min (TSM). Previous studies have reported complete tonal neutralization between the two sandhi 33 variants derived respectively from citation 55 and 24 variants, leading to the claim that tone sandhi in this language is categorical. The fact that tone sandhi in TSM is assumed to possess a mixture of properties of lexical and postlexical rules gives rise to the debate over the status of this phonological rule.

The findings of the dissertation shows incomplete neutralization between the two sandhi 33 variants with an indication of an ongoing sound change towards a near- or complete tonal merger, possibly led by female speakers. In addition, citation form is proposed to be more underlyingly represented on account of the fact that subjects, especially old speakers, have stronger association with citation variants than with sandhi variants in the priming experiment. The spontaneous corpus study suggests that the Tone Circle is merely a phonological idealization in light of the systematic subphonemic difference in f0 between citation X and sandhi X that are supposed to correspond even with some control of conceivable confounding factors. By comparing direct- and indirect-reference models, I argue that tone sandhi in TSM should be analyzed as a head-left Concatenation rule within a DM-based theoretical framework.

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