Eric Zee1 & Wai-Sum Lee2
1Phonetics Lab, Dept. of CTL, City University of Hong Kong; 2Phonetics Lab, Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics, City University of Hong Kong

ID 1549
[full paper]

This paper presents the phonemic vowel typology of the 89 areally and genetically balanced Chinese dialects. Eight types of phonemic vowel systems are identified. The number of the vowel phoneme in the vowel systems ranges from 4 to 11. The 7-vowel system is the optimum system, whereas the 4-, 10- and 11-vowels systems are less common. The most frequently occurring vowel phonemes are /i a u/, to be followed by unrounded front mid vowels and rounded back mid vowels. As for the nasal vowels, the nasal [a] appears most frequently. Compared to the oral vowels, the number of nasal vowel types is smaller and the frequency of the nasal vowels in much lower. The findings are compared with those in the early studies of universals of vowel systems.