INVESTIGATING THE PHONETICS OF MANDARIN TONE SANDHI
James Myers and Jane Tsay
The goal of this paper is to discuss phonetic evidence relating to the production of tone sandhi in Mandarin. Two views of tone sandhi are contrasted: the standard "categorical" view, whereby tone 3 sandhi is treated similarly to a/an allomorphy in English, and an alternative "gradient" view, which treats tone 3 sandhi as similar to flapping in English. Evidence is presented for two main claims. First, based on a review of the phonetic literature, it appears that native speakers of Beijing Mandarin process tone sandhi more in line with the gradient view, while speakers of other varieties (including Taiwan Mandarin) process tone sandhi in accordance with the categorical view. Second, a new phonetic study of both tone 3 sandhi and the idiosyncratic tone sandhi found with the morpheme yi ("one") provides further support for the claim of categoricality of tone 3 sandhi in Taiwan Mandarin, yet also illustrates the empirical and theoretical pitfalls of phonetic research on tone sandhi.