On the cognitive basis of contact-induced sound change: vowel merger reversal in Shanghainese
Chang, Charles B.
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CitationYao Yao, Charles B Chang. 2016. "On the Cognitive Basis of Contact-Induced Sound Change: Vowel Merger Reversal in Shanghainese." Language: Journal of the Linguistic Society of America, Volume 92, Issue 2, pp. 433 - 467.
This study investigates the source and status of a recent sound change in Shanghainese (Wu, Sinitic) that has been attributed to language contact with Mandarin. The change involves two vowels, /e/ and /ɛ/, reported to be merged three decades ago but produced distinctly in contemporary Shanghainese. Results of two production experiments show that speaker age, language mode (monolingual Shanghainese vs. bilingual Shanghainese-Mandarin), and crosslinguistic phonological similarity all influence the production of these vowels. These findings provide evidence for language contact as a linguistic means of merger reversal and are consistent with the view that contact phenomena originate from cross-language interaction within the bilingual mind.