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The Making of an Official Language : Chaofen Sun

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  1. Regional PÇ"tōnghuà - An Investigation of Three Speakers
    1. Introduction.
    2. Investigation.
  2. Retroflex-Dental Merger.
  3. Conclusion

The foundation for the unification of Chinese has already come into being. It is none other than the standard form of Modern Chinese with the Beijing phonological system as its norm of pronunciation, Northern dialects as its base dialects, and looking to exemplary modern works in vernacular literary language for its grammatical norms.]

[...] This paper will also discuss the fate of the three speakers' nasal finals, as well as diphthong finals such as ou which, as Chen notes, is realized as monophthongal in certain Wu dialect-affected varieties of p?t?nghuà, making it relevant to observation of Speaker C's speech (1999: 42). Results and Discussion For each feature of regional p?t?nghuà that I decided to keep track of, I both counted all the possible instances that a speaker could use an innovative (regional) feature and recorded whether they used the feature or not, or, to measure use of neutral tone, took the frequency of neutral-tone syllables in the entire recording. [...]

[...] For that reason she studied in her room rather than traveling in the street, as she might have done had she chosen the latter option. My impression is that p?t?nghuà has its own semi-independent standard, nominally based on Beijing speech but which sets out a range of pronunciations that excludes many quite ?authentic? kinds of Beijing speech. Most speakers in Beijing are also quite aware of differences between p?t?nghuà and Beijing speech. Despite speakers' intuitions however, the official definitions stand, without much explanation of just which Beijing speech (or speeches) is acceptable as the basis of p?t?nghuà, much less why. [...]

[...] This set of results does, however, bring up the issue of distinguishing between phonological reductions made according to rules salient wherever the language is spoken and between regional features. The former are the changes that happen to language as it is spoken in the course of real life: consonants becoming voiced intervocalically, coarticulation of nasality on vowels preceding nasal consonants (both of these examples from English). The latter are changes that occur as the result of diachronic sound changes and language contact and are in this way confined to social groups or geographic localities. [...]

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