Drawing on Clyne's () explanatory framework of facilitation, this study presents evidence of monosyllabic salience in Hong Kong Cantonese. Grounded in the perceptual salience of bilingual speakers of two or more languages (: 95), facilitation extends Clyne's earlier work on triggering (, ), which seeks to explain why linguistic (phonological, lexical, syntactic, semantic, etc.) features of one's earlier-acquired language(s) may be transferred to languages learned or used later. In a corpus of texts appearing in informal discourse of Hong Kong Chinese newspaper columns in the mid-1990s (), a large number of monosyllabic English words, occurring as unintegrated insertions (), were found. Building on Luke and Lau's () empirically supported insight that Cantonese verbs and adjectives are more characteristically monosyllabic compared with nouns, we present additional evidence in support of the Monosyllabic Salience Hypothesis (MSH): (i) shorter average word length in Cantonese vis-à-vis Mandarin, as evidenced in miscellaneous wordlists, including the Leipzig-Jakarta list (: 239-241) and the World Loanword Database (WOLD) online (); (ii) the truncation of the first syllable of polysyllabic words embedded in the A-not-A structure; (iii) bilingual punning; and (iv) monosyllabic Romanized Cantonese words (e.g., chok, chur, hea). Copyright © 2016 by De Gruyter Mouton.
Hong Kong Cantonese
CitationLi, D. C. S., Wong, C. S. p., Leung, W. M., & Wong, S. T. S. (2016). Facilitation of transference: The case of monosyllabic salience in Hong Kong Cantonese. Linguistics, 54(1), 1-58.
- Language contact
- Lexical borrowing