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Whitaker, Katherine P.K. (1952) Characterization of the Cantonese dialect with special reference to its modified tones. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Chapter I - The Cantonese Dialect is characterized by its rich tonal system, which in this introductory chapter is compared with the tonal systems of four of the principal dialects of China, viz. the Peking, Shanghai, Hokkien and Hakka dialects. Chapter II - From historical and other records it is shown that Cantonese has a long history as a Chinese dialect, dating back to the 3rd century B.C., and that it has had continuous contacts with aboriginal dialects (chiefly Tai) up to fairly recent times (Sonq and Yuan). Chapter III - On account of its early establishment as a Chinese dialect, Cantonese possesses a number of arcthisms in its tone patterns as well as in its vocabulary and in structure. On the other hand, its contact with aboriginal dialects of the south has also affected its tonal system, vocabulary and, in some cases, even word-order. As far as the tonal system is concerned it has increased in richness of pattern, i.e. in variety of pitches and movements, owing to contact with rich aboriginal tonal systems. Its vocabulary has been likewise enriched, so that there are in current use in Cantonese today a large number of words not found in any other Chinese dialect (except in some cases in Hakka, which has been subjected to similar influences in the same province). A list of such 'peculiar' words is given. In addition, this thesis lists words which are common to both Cantonese and two Tai dialects (of Long jou ti and Shianqjou). In order to show up the marked, difference in structure between Cantonese and Northern Chinese dialects, a comparison is made between Cantonese and the National Language, i.e. the Peking dialect, including also comparison of the vocabulary. Chapter IV is devoted to the Cantonese tones in general. It starts with a critical survey of the contributions made by Western and Chinese scholars and sets out in particular the basic tone patterns and their development to the present stage of pitches and movements. Chapter V deals with the 'modified' tones, which may well be described as the most Interesting feature of the whole Cantonese tonal system. The 'modified' tones, changed from the 'basic' tones, serve to distinguish the 'particular' from the 'general'. They may also express a certain emotional attitude of the speaker or denote emphasis. Furthermore they may originate from omission of words (compensatory modification). It is contended that the modified tones have arisen from the coalescence of a noun and its diminutive suffix, a high-pitched 'i' (jrihx), which corresponds to and is etymologically identical with the suffix erl of the National Language, A topical list of current words which are generally spoken in the modified tones has been included.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:11

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