Variable directional applications in Tianjin tone sandhi

Hui Shan Lin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


This paper investigates tone sandhi phenomena in the Chinese dialect of Tianjin, which are noteworthy for the rule application directionalities observed in tri-tonal strings. The rule application directionalities appear to be ungoverned, as none of the principles proposed to date that may contribute to determining directionalities can account for them. Based on the constraint-based theory of OT, this paper shows that the rule operation directionalities in Tianjin are by no means ungoverned. Normally tone sandhi applies from left to right for identity reasons. This is captured by the OO-faithfulness constraint Ident-BOT, which requires identity between prosodically related outputs. The left-to-right directionality is sacrificed only when it would result in output forms that involve marked sequences or toneme deletion at the prominent edge of a tone, which are forbidden by the markedness constraint OCP-T and the positional IO-faithfulness constraint Max-IO-t-R, respectively. Thus the rule application directionalities in Tianjin are naturally predicted by the interaction of Ident-BOt, OCP-T, and Max-IO-t-R, where Ident-BOt must be dominated by the latter two constraints.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-226
Number of pages46
JournalJournal of East Asian Linguistics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Sept


  • Normal application
  • Optimality Theory
  • Overapplication
  • Prosodic Correspondence
  • Tianjin tone sandhi
  • Variable directional applications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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