Tone assignment in Hong Kong English


This article provides an argument for Hong Kong English being a tonal language and informs the growing literature on word- and phrase-level prosody interactions. By teasing apart tonal effects that come from intonation and those that come from the word boundary, a clear picture emerges that H tones are assigned in all combinations to HKE di- and trisyllabic words. Tone spreading and blocking across words can also be seen in HKE, but syllables lexically specified for H never give up their tones. Complexity in HKE tone patterns arises when the H tones interact with boundary tones, such as the declarative final L% and the word-initial M.