Two male speakers of Hong Kong Cantonese varied the endpoints
of High Rising and Mid-Low Rising tones and merged them in
both directions under experimental conditions. The variation and merger
of the two rising tones raise the possibility that at least four tonal
subsystems may coexist within the Hong Kong Cantonese speech community.
Sociolinguistic research over the past 20 years has documented
variation and change among Cantonese sound segments but not the tones.
Tonal variation in Hong Kong Cantonese appears to be a potentially
important sociolinguistic variable.This
article is a revised version of a paper presented at the 33rd
International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics in
Trang, Thailand, on October 5, 2000. The research reported here was
supported by the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special
Administrative Region, China (Project No. PolyU 5249/99H
Linguistics) and by Hong Kong Polytechnic University Research Grant