Phonetic variations and sound changes in Hong Kong Cantonese: Diachronic review, synchronic study and implications for speech sound assessment

Carol K.S. To, Sharynne McLeod, Pamela S.P. Cheung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

The aim of this article was to describe phonetic variations and sound changes in Hong Kong Cantonese (HKC) to provide speech-language pathologists with information about acceptable variants of standard pronunciations for speech sound assessments. Study 1 examined the pattern of variations and changes based on past diachronic research and historical written records. Nine phonetic variations were found. Five in syllable-initial and syllabic contexts: (1) [n-] ? [l-], (2) [n-] ? O-, (3) O- ? [n-], (4) [kwe-] ? [ke-], (5) syllabic [ni] ? [m]; and four in syllable-final contexts: (6) [-n] ? [-n], (7) [-n] ? [-n], (8) [-k] ? [-t], (9) [-t] ? [-k]. Historical records demonstrated the pattern of variation and changes in HKC across time. In study 2, a large-scale synchronic study of speakers of differing ages was undertaken to determine acceptable phonetic variations of HKC for speech sound assessments. In the synchronic study, single-words were elicited from 138 children (10;8-12;4) and 112 adults (18-45 years) who spoke Cantonese and lived in Hong Kong. Synchronic evidence demonstrated five acceptable variants in syllable-initial and syllabic contexts: (1) [n-] ? [l-], (2) [n-] ? O-, (3) O- ? [n-], (4) [kwe-] ? [ke-] and (5) syllabic [ni] ? [m] and four incomplete sound changes in syllable-final contexts: (6) [-n] ? [-n], (7) [-n] ? [-n], (8) [-k] ? [-t] and (9) [-t] ? [-k]. The incomplete sound changes may still be accepted as variants in speech sound assessments unless related speech problems are indicated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-353
Number of pages21
JournalClinical Linguistics and Phonetics
Volume29
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2015

Grant Number

  • FT0990588

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