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Title: Frequency-Induced Tonal Changes: Gradual Cumulative Effects versus Abrupt Final Switch
Authors: Chung-Yu, C. 
Issue Date: 2002
Citation: Chung-Yu, C. (2002). Frequency-Induced Tonal Changes: Gradual Cumulative Effects versus Abrupt Final Switch. Journal of Chinese Linguistics 30 (2) : 241-265. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: The nature of sound change is explored with respect to whether it is phonetically gradual or abrupt, considering the catalytic effects of word frequency in the prelude leading to the final actuation of the change. Various types of tonal changes in Modern Peking have shown strong indications of having been frequency-induced. Three types of ongoing changes are presented for illustration. Accumulation of occurrences (frequency) is accumulation of effects; sufficient effects eventually trigger a change of state. While the accumulation of effects is gradual, the triggering of change is abrupt. Hence, sound changes are phonetically both gradual & abrupt, a gradual prelude leading to an abrupt change of state. In the process of lexical diffusion, frequency may have been a criterion for the selection of participating members in various types of tonal changes between Middle Chinese & Modern Peking. However, in retrospect, only the abrupt change of state is visible; the gradual prelude built on frequency is perhaps invisible from a historical perspective. In that sense, gradualness is compressed into abruptness. This is perhaps the middle ground between the neogrammarians' view of sound changes being phonetically gradual & the diffusionists' view of their being phonetically abrupt.
Source Title: Journal of Chinese Linguistics
ISSN: 00913723
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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