Indirect tone-prominence interaction in kunming tone sandhi

Hui Shan Lin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Kunming exhibits a special kind of interaction between tone and prominence whereby the prosodic headedness is shown to play an indirect role in tone sandhi. Due to higher-ranked tonal faithfulness constraints, lower tones, which are universally unfavored in the head position, do not change to higher tones, and higher tones, which are universally unfavored in the non-head position, do not change to lower tones. Nonetheless, though the unfavored tone-(non-)head correlation does not directly trigger tone sandhi, it indirectly decides whether tone sandhi will take place. Falling tones, inter-syllabic tone segment disagreement, and tonal combinations with identical contours are marked tonal structures in the language. But not all these structures result in tone sandhi. The penalization of these structures is tied to an unfavored tone-(non-)head correlation; only when an undesired tone-(non-)head correlation is involved are the marked tonal structures penalized. The indirect tone-(non-)head interaction observed in Kunming is special but not unique to the language as a similar correlation is found in the Chinese dialects of Dongshi Hakka and Beijing Mandarin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-81
Number of pages38
JournalConcentric: Studies in Linguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 May 31


  • Kunming tone sandhi
  • Optimality theory
  • Prosodic head
  • Tone-(non-)head correlation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


Dive into the research topics of 'Indirect tone-prominence interaction in kunming tone sandhi'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this