吳實錄

Annals of Wu

漢藏緬語々言研究ㄟ博客
a sinotibetoburman linguistics blog
2012-10-17

Shanghainese Pitch Contours discussion

As requested, here are contours of different sentences with samples by a native speaker. This sentence and the corresponding audio are from Tatoeba.

As is always the case, the generalisations dictating what is expected aren't always spot on, and there's a lot of room for variation based on mood or the speaker, regional factors, as well as just the possibility for individual idiolects. This is all one speaker and does not necessarily represent all Shanghainese utterances or speakers.

Let's look at the example.

搿只照相机我勿欢喜。
gəˀ ʦəˀ ʦɔ ɕiã ʨi ŋu vəˀ huø ɕi / 普通话:我不喜欢这只照相机

And even though I said you'd need to click through, for this one since I've split it into it's two parts, you can just listen to the parts here:


I'm a little worried here that I am trying to fit the reality into the generalisations, but I have to trust Qian Nairong on the validity of the sandhi rules. There are a steps to dividing this up. First, into [搿只照相机] and [我勿欢喜], which is really just dividing the sentence along the O,SV pattern that we find in Mandarin (but often in Wu). However the contours we'd expect in that case are [22.55.33.33.33][55.33.33.21], which doesn't really come close to matching what we hear in the sample. Looking at just the first half then, we need to further divide it as [搿只[照相机]], giving us [11.23[33.55.21]] which is a lot more similar to the pitch contour of the recording.

The second part, 我勿欢喜 also needs further division. 欢喜 by itself should be [55.31], consistent with the recording. And what we hear sounds like what you'd expect with [我勿][欢喜], [55.31][55.31].

Assuming this sentence is typical and consistent with the contour rules, the phrasing we should expect is [搿只][照相机],[我勿][欢喜].

Again, it's entirely possible that this isn't correct, and/or that this speaker's idiolect has some free variation that isn't accounted for in the contour generalisations. So take it all with a grain of salt.

In a coming post look at specific examples from Qian Nairong, along with his explanation of each.

edit: reworded some bits for clarity.

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    A semi-academic linguistics blog about Sinotibetan, previously focused primarily on Wú, a Sinitic language spoken in the Yangtze Delta region. Topics now include historical linguistics, documentation, language rights, sociolinguistics and learning materials, as well as acting as the dev blog for Phonemica from time to time.

    I'm a linguist based in Asia, working on documentation and historical development of Sinotibetan. In addition to academic research, I'm heavily involved in Phonemica, an organisation that promotes crowd-sourced preservation of local languages.

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