Typological Generalizations of the Sounds and Sound Systems of the Chinese Dialects

Project: Research

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  • Yun Yang ZEE (Principal Investigator / Project Coordinator)


Linguistic typology refers to the classification of structural types that occur across human languages, and the patterns found in typological generalizations are language universals. The two best known publications in this area of research are Greenberg (1978) and Maddieson (1984). However, the substantive typology and universals presented in both publications are inferred from comparisons of the sounds of languages other than the Chinese dialects. This leads to the question of the applicability of their generalizations to the Chinese dialects. The aims of this research are as follows:to establish phonetic and phonological typology of the Chinese dialects through classification of the sounds and sound systems of a large areally and genetically balanced representative sample of the Chinese dialects;to formulate the patterns of typological generalizations;to provide explanations for the typological generalizations for the Chinese dialects; andto compare the findings in this study with those in Greenberg (1978), Maddieson (1984), and other studies.The typology and patterns of typological generalizations of the sounds and sound systems of the Chinese dialects in this study are not only subjects of importance in themselves, but also the prelude to formulating theories concerning the evolution of the sound system of Chinese.


Project number7002056
Grant typeSRG
Effective start/end date1/04/0731/03/10