Linguistics and the Human Sciences, Vol 10, No 3 (2014)

A Systemic Functional Matrix of Chinese Phonology

Ou Yali, Liu Chengyu
Issued Date: 14 Dec 2015


This paper looks at the Chinese phonological system from within a Systemic Functional framework. It discusses such prosodic features as r-ization, stress, segmental lengthening and shortening, rhyming and tone accordance. These work for the hierarchically ranked units of syllable (initial and final), prosodic word (PW: standard PW, super PW and degenerate foot), prosodic phrase and intonational group on the one hand, across the diversified systems of ideational, interpersonal and textual functions on the other. The two dimensions hence constitute a systemic-functional matrix, with the system as the basis and the function as the motive.

Download Media

PDF (Price: £17.50 )

DOI: 10.1558/lhs.v10i3.29299


Baxter, W. H. (1992) A Handbook of Old Chinese Phonology. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Blutner, R. and Zeevat, H. (2004) Optimality Theory and Pragmatics. Hampshire: Palgrave.

Bowcher, W. and Smith, B. A. (ed.) (2013) Systemic Phonology: Recent Studies in English. Sheffield: Equinox.

Catford, J. C. (2001) On Rs, rhotacism and paleophony. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 31 (2): 171–185.

Cao, J. F. (2005) Yinduan yanchang de butong leixing ji qi yunlü jiazhi [Types of segmental lengthening and their prosodic functions]. Journal of School of Chinese Language and Culture Nanjing Normal University 4: 160–167./Report of Phonetic Research 2005 – Institute of Linguistics The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences [RPR–IL(CASS)/2005]: 5–12.

Cao, J. F. (1998) Putonghua yuyin jiezou de chubu yanjiu [A preliminary study of rhythm in Mandarin Chinese]. Report of Phonetic Research 1998 – Institute of Linguistics The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences [RPR--IL(CASS)/1998].

Carr, P. (2008) A Glossary of Phonology. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Chao, Y. R. (1956) Chinese terms of address. Language 32 (1): 217–241.

Chao, Y. R. (1968/1979) A Grammar of Spoken Chinese. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Chomsky, N. and Halle, M. (1968) The Sound Pattern of English. New York: Harper and Row.

Clements, G. N. and Keyser, S. J. (1983) CV Phonology: A Generative Theory of the Syllable. Cambridge: The MIT Press.

Couper-Kuhlen, E. (1986) An Introduction to English Prosody. London: Edward Arnold.

Couper-Kuhlen, E. and Selting, M. (Eds) (1996) Prosody in Conversation. Canbridge: Cambridge University Press.

Davies, M. (1992) Prosodic cohesion in a systemic perspective: Philip Larkin reading ‘Toads Revisited’. In P. Tench (Ed.) Studies in Systemic Phonology, 206–230. London: Pinter Publishers.

Feng, S. L. (1996). Lun hanyu de yunlüci [A discussion on prosodic words in Chinese]. Zhongguo Shehui Kexue [Social Sciences in China] 1: 161–176.

Feng, S. L. (1997/2009) Hanyu de Yunlü, Cifa yu Jufa [Interaction between Morphology Syntax and Prosody in Chinese]. Beijing: Peking University Press.

Feng, S. L. (1998) Lun hanyu de ziran yinbu [A discussion on the natural foot in Chinese]. Zhongguo Yuwen [Chinese Languge and Writing] 1: 40–47.

Feng, S. L. (2000) Yunlü Jufaxue [The Prosodic Syntax of Chinese]. Shanghai: Shanghai Education Press.

Firth, J. R. (1957) Papers in Linguistics 1934–1951. London: Oxford University Press.

Fox, A. (2001) Prosodic Features and Prosodic Structure: The Phonology of Suprasegmentals. London: Oxford University Press.

Goldsmith, J. (1979) Autosegmental Phonology. New York: Garland Press.

Goldsmith, J. (1990) Autosegmental and Metrical Phonology. Oxford: Blackwell.

Halliday, M. A. K. (1963a/2007) Intonation in English grammar. In J. J. Webster (Ed.) Studies in English language (Vol. 7), 264–286. Beijing: Peking University Press.

Halliday, M. A. K. (1963b/2007) The tones of English. In J. J. Webster (Ed.) Studies in English Language (Vol. 7), 237–263 (The seventh volume of a series of the Collected Works of M.A.K. Halliday). Beijing: Peking University Press.

Halliday, M. A. K. (1967) Intonation and Grammar in British English. Hague: Mouton.

Halliday, M. A. K. (1970). A Course in Spoken English: Intonation. London: Oxford University Press.

Halliday, M. A. K. (1985a) English intonation as a resource for discourse. Beitrage zur Phonetik und Linguistik 48: 111–117.

Halliday, M. A. K. (1985b/1994) An Introduction to Functional Grammar. London: Arnold.

Halliday, M. A. K. (1992) A systemic interpretation of Peking syllable finals. In P. Tench (Ed.) Studies in Systemic Phonology, 104–121. London: Pinter Publishers.

Halliday, M. A. K. and Greaves, W. S. (2008) Intonation in the Grammar of English. London: Equinox.

Halliday, M. A. K. and Matthiessen, C. M. I. M. (2004) An Introduction to Functional Grammar 3rd edn. London: Arnold.

Hayes, B. (1980) A Metrical Theory of Stress Rule. PhD dissertation. MIT.

Hayes, B. (1989) Compensatory lengthening in moraic phonology. Linguistic Inquiry 20 (2): 253–306.

Hayes, B. (1995) Metrical Stress Theory. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Hsu, C. S. K. and Jun, S. A. (1998) Prosodic strengthening in Taiwanese: Syntagmatic or paradigmatic? UCLA Working Papers in Phonetics 96: 69–89.

Hu, Y. S. (Ed.) (1986) Xiandai Hanyu (Xiudingban) [Modern Chinese (Revised Edition)]. Shanghai: Shanghai Education Press.

Hu, Z. L. (1994) Yinghan yiwen yuqi xitong de duocengci he duoyuangongneng jieshi [A multilevel and metafunctional interpertation of the Chinese interrogative mood system. Journal of Foreign Languages 89 (1): 1–7.

Huang, B. R. and Liao, X. D. 2002. Xiandai Hanyu [Modern Chinese] 3rd edn. Beijing: Higher Education Press.

Kager, R. and Visch, E. (1988) Metrical constituency and rhythmic adjustment. Phonology 5 (1): 21–71.

Karlgren, B. (1954) Compendium of phonetics in Ancient and Archaic Chinese. Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities 26: 211–367

Leben, W. (1973) Suprasegmental Phonology. PhD dissertation. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

van Leeuwen, T. (1992) Rhythm and social context: accent and juncture in the speech of professional radio announcers. In P. Tench (Ed.) Studies in Systemic Phonology, 231–262. London: Pinter Publishers.

Li, S. J. (1990) Yuqi he hanyu yiwen yuqi xitong [Mood and interrogative mood system in Chinese]. In Hu Z. L. (Ed.) Yuyan Xitong yu Gongneng [Language System and Function]. Beijing: Peking University Press.

Lieberman, M. and Prince, A. (1977) On stress and linguistic rhythm. Linguistic Inquiry 8: 249–336.

Lin, T. and Wang, L. J. (1985) Beijing Yuyin Shiyanlu [Working Paper in Experimental phonetics]. Beijing: Peking University Press.

Liu, L. Y. and Wu, J. Z. (2001) Hanyu Biaoda [Chinese Expression]. Nanning: Guangxi Education Press.

Lock, G. (1992) Non-segmental phonology and variable rules: investigating variation in Singapore Mandarin nasal finals. In P. Tench (Ed.) Studies in Systemic Phonology, 122–135. London: Pinter Publishers.

Luo, C. P. and Wang J. (1957) Putong Yuyinxue Gangyao [An Introduction to General Phonetics]. Beijing: Science Press.

Ma, Q. W. (2008) Youxuanlun [Optimality Theory]. Shanghai: Shanghai Education Press.

McCarthy, J. J. and Prince, A. S. (1986/1996) Prosodic Morphology. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Center for Cognitive Science.

McCarthy, J. J. (2004) Optimality Theory in Phonology: A Reader. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Limited.

McGregor, W. B. (1990) A Functional Grammar of Gooniyandi. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

McGregor, W. B. (1992) Towards a systemic account of Gooniyandi segmental phonology. In P. Tench (Ed.) Studies in Systemic Phonology, 19–43. London: Pinter Publishers.

Nespor, M. and Vogel, I. (1986) Prosodic Phonology. Dordrecht: Foris Publications.

Peng, X. W. (1997) Yinxi zuzhi de yupian tezheng [Textual feature of phonological organisation]. Journal of Chongqing University (Social Science) 4: 75–81.

Prakasam, V. (1972) A Systemic Treatment of Certain Aspects of Telegu Phonology. PhD dissertation. University of York.

Prakasam, V. (1976) A functional view of phonological features. Acta Linguistica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 26 (1–2): 77–88.

Prakasam, V. (1977) An outline of the theory of systemic phonology. International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics 6: 24–42.

Prakasam, V. (1992) Length in Telugu. In P. Tench (Ed.) Studies in Systemic Phonology, 70–76. London: Pinter Publishers.

Prince, A. and Smolensky, P. (1993/2004) Optimality Theory: Constraint Interaction in Generative Grammar. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Selkirk, E. O. (1972) The Phrase Phonology of English and French. PhD dissertation. MIT.

Selkirk, E. O. (1978) On prosodic structure and its relation to syntactic structure. In T. Fretheim (Ed.) Nordic Prosody , 111–140. Tondheim: TAPIR.

Selkirk, E. O. (1984) Phonology and Syntax: The Relation between Sound and Structure. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Shen, J. (1998) Hanyu yudiao fenlei he biaoji fangfa shishuo.[Intonations and marking methods of Mandarin Chinese]. Yuyan Wenzi Yingyong [Application of Language and Characters] 25 (1): 102–104.

Tench, P. (Ed.) (1992a) Studies in Systemic Phonology. London: Pinter Publishers.

Tench, P. (1992b) Tone and the status of information. In P. Tench (Ed.) Studies in Systemic Phonology, 161–174. London: Pinter Publishers.

Tench, P. (1996) The Intonation Systems of English. London: Cassell.

Trubetzkoy, N. S. (1939/1969) Principles of Phonology. (Tr. Christiane A.M. Baltaxe). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Wang, H. J. (1999) Hanyu Feixianxing Yinxixue [Non-linear Phonology of Chinese]. Beijing: Peking University Press.

Wang, J. L. (1993) Hanyu Shengdiao de Shengchengyinxixue Yanjiu [A Generative Phonological Study on Chinese Tones]. In Liu J. and Hou J. Y. (Eds.) Zhongguo Yuwen Yanjiu Sishinian Jinian Wenji [Collections of the 40th Anniversary of Studies on Chinese Language], 181–188. Beijing: Beijing Langauge and Culture University Press.

Wang, L. (1956) Hanyu Yinyunxue [Chinese Phonology]. Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company.

Wang, L. (1963) Hanyu Yinyun [Sounds in Chinese]. Beijing: Chinese Language and Literature Press.

Wang, L. J. (1991) Yinxixue Jichu [An Introduction to Phonology]. Beijing: Chinese Language and Literature Press.

Wang, Y. H. (2002) Langdu Jiqiao [Skills in Recitation]. Beijing: China Radio and Television Publishing House

Watt, D. L. E. (1992) Instrumental analysis of English nuclear tones. In P. Tench (Ed.) Studies in Systemic Phonology, 135–160. London: Pinter Publishers.

Watt, D. L. E. (1994/1996) The Phonology and Semology of Intonation in English: An Instrumental and Systemic Perspective. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Linguistics Club Publications / Journal of the International Phonetic Association 26: 59–62.

Wennerstrom, A. (2001) The Music of Everyday Speech: Prosody and Discourse Analysis. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Williams, E. (1971/1976) Underlying tone in Margi and Igbon. Linguistic Inquiry 7: 463–484.

Wu, Z. J. and Lin, M. C. (1989) Shiyan Yuyinxue Gaiyao [An Introduction to Laboratory Phonetics]. Beijing: Higher Education Press.

Yang, Y. F, Huang, X. J. and Gao, L. (2006) Yunlü Tezheng Yanjiu [Studies on speech prosody], Advances in Psychological Science 4: 546–550.

Young, D. (1992) English consonant clusters: A systemic approach. In P. Tench (Ed.) Studies in Systemic Phonology, 44–69.London: Pinter Publishers.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Equinox Publishing Ltd - 415 The Workstation 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)114 221-0285 - Email:

Privacy Policy