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Open Access Thesis

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Master of Arts (M.A.)

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This paper mainly analyzes the different tones in the Shantou dialect. The Shantou dialect is known as one of the branches of the Chaoshan dialect which is a sub-group of the southern Min. Compared to other sub-group southern Min dialects, one of the distinguishing tonal characteristics of the Shantou dialect is that it has eight tones while the others have seven. Common views have explained that the eight tones in the Shantou dialect are the result of the four Middle Chinese tones further splitting into the upper register and the lower register. Thus, the Shantou dialect has its unique position in the study of the tonal development of Chinese.

In order to better understand this unique tonal phenomenon, with references to the four Middle Chinese tonal categories, the tonal system in the Shantou dialect is acoustically examined. With an acoustic tonal experiment, this study aims to discuss three questions. First, what are the Shantou dialect’s tonal values? Second, what is the relation between its tones and the four Middle Chinese tones? Third, what is the tonal value difference between auditory perception and objective analysis?

Based on the measurement of fundamental frequency of speeches from the selected native Shantou dialect speakers by Praat, objectively analyzed tonal values are provided. In comparison with an auditory perception of tonal value in previous studies, differences between the current study and previous research will be discussed. Moreover, I point out that the tonal system in the Shantou dialect is not spoken with as much symmetrical alignment as compared to the four Middle Chinese tones divided into the upper register and the lower register.

This paper contains five main parts. The first chapter gives a detailed introduction of the Shantou dialect. Second, the methodology that is used in this study is illustrated. Specifically, it includes how the data was collected and processed using a software program called Praat. Next, the third chapter gives an analysis on each tone’s value, including illustration on its fundamental frequency and tonal contour. Fourth, previous studies and current study on the tonal system in the Shantou dialect are further discussed. Last, a brief conclusion is listed.