Cantonese changed tones (also called pinjam; traditional Chinese: 變音; simplified Chinese: 变音; pinyin: biànyīn; Jyutping: bin3jam1; Cantonese Yale: binyàm) occur when a word's tone becomes a different tone due to a particular context or meaning. The changed tone is the tone of the word when read in a particular lexical or grammatical context, while the base (or underlying) tone is usually the tone of the word when read in citation. In its most common form, it occurs on the final syllable of either a compound word, a reduplicated word, or specific examples of vocatives, especially in direct address to family members.
It usually takes the form of a non-high level, non-mid rising tone (i.e. tones 3, 4, 5, and 6 in Jyutping and Yale; see Cantonese phonology for further information on the tones in Cantonese) transforming into a mid-rising tone (tone 2); in some speakers, this changed tone is slightly lower than the citation mid-rising tone. In speakers with the high falling tone, this may also become the high level tone via the same process. In many speakers, another form of a changed tone used in specific vocatives that may also result in a high level tone (tone 1), rather than in a mid-level tone. It is distinct from tone sandhi, which are automatic modifications of tone created by their phonetic environment, without regard to meaning.
- Yip, Virginia; Matthews, Stephen (2000). Intermediate Cantonese: A Grammar and Workbook. London, UK: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-19386-9.
- Yu, Alan C. L. (2007). "Understanding near mergers: The case of morphological tone in Cantonese" (PDF). Phonology. 24 (1): 187–214. doi:10.1017/S0952675707001157. Retrieved 2007-12-05.
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