LSASL 70: Sound Systems of Mandarin Chinese and English: a comparison

Product no.: ISBN 9783895863226
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Sound Systems of Mandarin Chinese and English: a comparison

Tsung Chin
University of Maryland

This is a book on the sound systems of Mandarin Chinese and English. It takes a contrastive approach by first analyzing English and then using the same framework for Chinese.

The book focuses on the basic concepts for the understanding of Mandarin sound system. It describes the basic units of meaning, zi (words), as morpheme-syllables. The 405 morpheme-syllables in Mandarin form a closed set before tones are added. The components in the syllable are analyzed in terms of consonants and vowels, and divided into initials and finals by a binary approach used in traditional Chinese linguistics. In this book, an original view is illustrated on the positional analysis of the syllable and the selection of vowels heading the groups of finals in the binary system. The four tones are shown to form a symmetrically balanced system with the phonetic variations explained in concise and simple terms. The placement of tone marks which often causes confusion is also demonstrated to follow well-motivated rules. This book provides insights for speakers of English and Chinese about their languages. It can be used as a textbook on Chinese phonetics, or as a reader for students of Chinese as a second language. Linguistic concepts are explained in plain language supplemented by analogies, examples, and reinforcing exercises. Learning problems are pointed out, causes explained, and remedies suggested.

Table of Contents

Division 1: The Chinese Language

Section I: What Is Chinese
Section II: The Dialects
Section III: Mandarin
Section IV: Mono-Syllabicity, the Morpheme and the Morpheme Syllable

Division 2: Linguistic Concepts

Section V: Pronunciation vs. Spelling
Section VI: Phonetics
Section VII: Consonants, Vowels, and the Syllable

Division 3: English Sound System

Section VIII: Minimal Pairs and Phonemes
Section IX: English Consonants
Section X: Allophones and Assimilation
Section XI: English Vowels

Division 4: Mandarin Sound System

Section XII: Mandarin Consonants
Section XIII: Mandarin Vowels
Section XIV: Mandarin Syllable Structure
Section XV: Mandarin Tones

Division 5: Traditional Chinese Phonology

Section XVI: Reverse Correspondence and Twin Initial-Double Final
Section XVII: Binary Initial+Final Analysis of the Mandarin Syllable
Section XVIII: Combinatory Constrains and Mandarin Syllables

Division 6: Phonetic Systems

Section XIX: The Three Major Romanization Systems and Their Comparison
Section XX: The National Phonetic Alphabet

Mandarin Initials
Mandarin Syllables

ISBN 9783895863226. LINCOM Studies in Asian Linguistics 70. 144pp. 2006.

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