Complex variations of Mandarin T3 tone sandhi in violable cyclicity of PF postsyntactic linearization
Liu Haiyang
January 2023

Variations in Mandarin T3 tone sandhi have been a headache over decades both in theoretical and experimental research in Chinese phonology (See Cheng 1970, 1973; Selkirk 1984; Shih 1986; Kaisse 1985, 1990; Chen 2008; Wang and Lin 2011; Zhang 2014 among others). To accommodate the perplexing variations, I propose a “violable cyclicity” based on the direct spell-out model of PF linearization (Pak 2008; Embick 2007, 2010) in Distributed Morphology (Halle & Marantz 1993; Harley & Noyer 1999; Embick & Noyer 2007 among others). The morphosyntactic cyclicity between the post-syntactic linearization cycles interacts with the phonological cyclicity of bleeding features in Mandarin T3 tone sandhi, forming a special “double-cyclicity”. This mechanism can derive accurate and sufficient T3 sandhi variations, compared with alternative approaches, e.g., prosodic analysis based on recursive metrical foot formation. It may suggest that the syntax-related properties (e.g., the recursive foot formation mapped from syntactic hierarchies) are too strict when we handle the current perplexing data of cyclic phrasal phonological phenomena. The PF linearization process can ease the limitation of recursive prosodic structure mapped from syntactic hierarchy, providing the possibility of flexible postlexical cyclicity shown in Mandarin T3 tone sandhi. We would expect that the current study provides a meaningful analysis to support the direct spell-out models at the morphosyntax and phonology interface. The case of “unusual” cyclicity in phrasal/postlexical phonology may give us a new perspective to look at the information transmission from morphosyntax to phonology.
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Reference: lingbuzz/007063
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keywords: syntax and phonology interface; distributed morphology; direct spell-out model; syntactic linearization; pf, morphology, syntax, phonology
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