LINGUIST List 15.303

Tue Jan 27 2004

Qs: Syllable Codas; Mandarin Stops/Aspiration

Editor for this issue: Naomi Fox <>

We'd like to remind readers that the responses to queries are usually best posted to the individual asking the question. That individual is then strongly encouraged to post a summary to the list. This policy was instituted to help control the huge volume of mail on LINGUIST; so we would appreciate your cooperating with it whenever it seems appropriate. In addition to posting a summary, we'd like to remind people that it is usually a good idea to personally thank those individuals who have taken the trouble to respond to the query. To post to LINGUIST, use our convenient web form at


  1. Laurie Woods, Phonology
  2. Carol L. Tenny, Question: stops in Mandarin

Message 1: Phonology

Date: Sat, 24 Jan 2004 10:27:38 -0500 (EST)
From: Laurie Woods <>
Subject: Phonology

I am compiling a list of phonological conditions on syllable codas in
the languages of the world, such as the condition in the Australian
language Lardil (and also in Finnish) that only coronal consonants can
appear in syllable codas. I would appreciate help in this endeavor.
Please send me information about languages that have particular
restrictions on syllable codas. Many thanks, Laurie Woods
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: Question: stops in Mandarin

Date: Tue, 27 Jan 2004 08:00:03 -0500 (EST)
From: Carol L. Tenny <>
Subject: Question: stops in Mandarin

According to Campbell's 'Compendium of World's Languages', Mandarin has
the PHONEMES /p,t,k,b,d,g/. However, /b,d,g/ are actually PHONETICALLY
Furthermore /b,d,g/ are unaspirated and /p,t,k/ are aspirated.
This means there actually is a contrast between a PRONOUNCED aspirated and
unaspirated [p,t,k].

What does it mean to have voiced phonemes that are always(?) phonetically
unvoiced, and more importantly, how can I make my Mandarin speakers in my
class understand this?

I was actually trying to show them that aspiration was contrastive in
Mandarin, but they balked because of the /p,b/ problem. Can I show them
contrastive aspiration in another way?

Does this also exist in Shanghai or Cantonese? I also have speakers of
these dialects.

Thank you for any help with extricating me and my class from this confusion.

Carol Tenny
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue