The Phonology of Gangou : a Chinese Variety of the Amdo Sprachbund

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Title: The Phonology of Gangou : a Chinese Variety of the Amdo Sprachbund
Author: Kerbs, Richard
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Humanistinen tiedekunta, Maailman kulttuurien laitos
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts, Department of World Cultures
Helsingfors universitet, Humanistiska fakulteten, Institutionen för världens kulturer
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2019
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Itä‑Aasian tutkimus
East Asian Studies
Abstract: This thesis examines the phonology of Gangou, a Sinitic (Chinese) variety spoken in Minhe County, Qinghai Province, China. Gangou is a variety of Mandarin, a.k.a. Northern Chinese, that belongs to what has been termed the Amdo Sprachbund, a linguistic area consisting of Sinitic, Bodic, Mongolic, and Turkic languages which have converged structurally towards a common Altaic prototype. Although the languages of the Amdo Sprachbund have started to receive more attention recently, Gangou remains an underdocumented language. Of the few articles that have been published, none so far has been dedicated to phonology, and it is the aim of this thesis to fill this gap. The material for the thesis was elicited during a field trip in Xining and Gangou, Qinghai Province, in September–October 2017. The data has been analysed based on general phonemic theory; no formalist theory of phonology has been adopted. The focus is primarily syn-chronic, but attention is paid to diachronic development where it facilitates the explanation of features that are peculiar to Gangou as compared to other Mandarin varieties such as Standard Mandarin. The primary goal of the present thesis is to determine the phonemes and tonemes of Gangou from a synchronic perspective. A secondary goal is to manifest the peculiarities of Gangou as compared to Standard Mandarin, which is the most widely known member of the Mandarin group of Chinese languages. Attempts have also been made to explain these unique features as possible contact-induced changes. As for the phonology of the languages of the Amdo Sprachbund, they represent either a Bodic or a Sinitic type. The results of this thesis show that Gangou exhibits a Sinitic orientation; it has a phonemic inventory that is close to that of other Mandarin varieties and a C (initial con-sonant) M (medial) V (vowel) F (final) syllable structure that is typical of Sinitic. Further-more, Gangou is tonal, having three tones in syllable-initial position, which is also a non-Bodic (i.e. Sinitic) feature. A comparison between the tone systems of Gangou and Standard Mandarin shows that a correspondence between Gangou and Standard Mandarin tones can be detected, which is to be expected. However, there are also many inconsistencies, especially in non-final syllables. Tone reduction may be one explanation to these inconsistencies.
Subject: Gangou
Amdo Sprachbund
Qinghai Chinese

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