||This study aims to investigate the syllable contraction of Mandarin compound nouns under the framework of Prosodic Phonology. Syllable contraction refers to a shortening of syllables by omitting or weakening a sound, sounds, or syllable boundaries (e.g., in English, the pronoun I and the auxiliary have can be contracted as I’ve and in Mandarin, zhe4yang4zi “in this way” can be contracted as jiang4zi). Several studies have been conducted on Mandarin syllable contraction. For instance, Chung (1997) proposes a CVX template, extended from Yip’s (1988) edge-in association, to account for how disyllabic words are mapped onto a mono-syllabic structure. Hsu (2003) follows Chung, further proposing a sonority model to explain the process of two syllables merging into one in Taiwanese Southern Min. On the other hand, Wong (2006) investigates the domain of syllable contraction (i.e., where syllable contraction will occur) in Cantonese from the perspective of Prosodic Phonology. |
Based on these studies, this paper discusses the domain of syllable contraction in Mandarin compound nouns. As Chung (2006) points out, when nouns are trisyllabic or tetrasyllabic, the syllable contraction tends to occur. In addition, it is the first two syllables that undergo contraction (e.g., huo3che1 in huo3che1zhan4 “train station” becoming huo3e1), rather than the last two syllables (i.e., che1zhan4). Thus, the domain of syllable contraction is argued to be a prosodic foot. The formation of the proposed foot domain is analyzed in two ways, using natural-foot-based and stress-based analyses. The former follows Mandarin footing in previous studies, in which stress is not explicitly incorporated into discussion, and the domain formation is proposed in terms of rules (i.e., rule-based approach). The latter takes stress into consideration when a foot is formed, and reanalyzes the domain formation of syllable contraction. The footing in these two analyses are very similar in the interpretation of the syllable contraction of trisyllabic compound nouns, but differ to that for disyllabic and tetrasyllabic compound nouns. The results indicate that the natural-foot-based analysis offers a slightly odd and unnatural analysis, while the stress-based analysis makes up for the shortcoming of the natural-foot-based analysis, thus providing a more solid and consistent analysis of domain formation. In addition, the proposed prosodic domain can explain not only the syllable contraction of trisyllabic compound nouns but also that of translated nouns that lack internal syntactic structures such as jia1na2da4 “Canada”.