2

Can a neutral/fifth tone appear in a word syllable other than the last one? If so, as a lexical tone, a sandhi tone or both? Adding a few examples would be helpful.

  • 1
    Why not. A very common one: 怎么样 the 么 is neutral. In 怎么了 we get two neutral tones 么 and 了! I don't believe here they are lexical or sandhi, more likely just for overall aesthetics. – user3306356 Dec 19 '17 at 2:56
  • @user3306356 What about appearing in the first syllable position? any example? – GJC Dec 19 '17 at 8:53
  • Some single syllable “words” 吗,呢,啊 are neutral toned - if you consider them actual words to begin with. – user3306356 Dec 19 '17 at 10:17
  • @user3306356 obviously I don't – GJC Dec 19 '17 at 10:55
  • Then no, there aren’t really any words that begin with a neutral tone. – user3306356 Dec 19 '17 at 11:10
2

Taking the definition of "word" as "an entry in CC-CEDICT", the answer to the first question is Yes.

I have a little script (I could share it if there's any interest) that I adapt to go through CC-CEDICT, looking for words that match a few criteria. Here's the output I got for 2-character words starting with the neutral tone:

nb matches: 8

nb tone patterns: 5

4 5, 5

1 5, 1

1 5, 2

1 5, 3

1 5, 4

5, 1 嗯哼 嗯哼 [en5 heng1] /uh-huh/

5, 2 個頭 个头 [ge5 tou2] /(coll.) (suffix) my ass!/yeah, right!/

5, 3 得很 得很 [de5 hen3] /very (much, good etc)/

5, 4 的話 的话 [de5 hua4] /if (coming after a conditional clause)/

5, 5 出來 出来 [chu5 lai5] /(after a verb, indicates coming out, completion of an action, or ability to discern or detect)/

5, 5 著呢 着呢 [zhe5 ne5] /comes at the end of the sentence to indicate a strong degree/quite/rather/

5, 5 起來 起来 [qi5 lai5] /(after a verb) indicating the beginning and continuation of an action or a state/indicating an upward movement (e.g. after 站[zhan4])/bringing things together (e.g. after 收拾[shou1 shi5])/(after a perception verb, e.g. 看[kan4]) expressing preliminary judgment/also pr. [qi3 lai5]/

5, 5 麼麼 么么 [me5 me5] /kissing sound (slang onom.)/

Note: the output starts with some statistics (number of matches, number of tone patterns) along with the different tone patterns (aka tone contours) ordered by frequency.

There are too many 3-character words containing a neutral tone not at the end for me to put them here - there are 445 of them - but here are the first lines of the output of my search.

nb matches: 445

nb tone patterns: 22

49 4, 5, 4

48 1, 5, 4

29 2, 5, 4

27 2, 5, 2

26 3, 5, 4

26 4, 5, 3

25 1, 5, 1

23 2, 5, 1

21 1, 5, 3

21 3, 5, 3

18 1, 5, 2

18 3, 5, 1

18 3, 5, 2

17 4, 5, 2

16 4, 5, 1

14 4, 5, 5

13 1, 5, 5

13 3, 5, 5

11 2, 5, 5

10 2, 5, 3

1 5, 3, 3

1 5, 4, 5

1, 5, 1 吃不消 吃不消 [chi1 bu5 xiao1] /to be unable to tolerate or endure/to find sth difficult to manage/

1, 5, 1 吃不開 吃不开 [chi1 bu5 kai1] /be unpopular/won't work/

1, 5, 1 吃得消 吃得消 [chi1 de5 xiao1] /to be able to endure (exertion, fatigue etc)/to be able to afford/

1, 5, 1 吃得開 吃得开 [chi1 de5 kai1] /to be popular/to be getting on well/much in demand/

1, 5, 1 夾肢窩 夹肢窝 [ga1 zhi5 wo1] /armpit/also written 胳肢窩|胳肢窝[ga1 zhi5 wo1]/

1, 5, 1 媽媽桑 妈妈桑 [ma1 ma5 sang1] /mama-san, middle-aged woman who runs a brothel, bar etc (loanword from Japanese)/madam/

1, 5, 1 尖子生 尖子生 [jian1 zi5 sheng1] /top student/

1, 5, 1 書記官 书记官 [shu1 ji5 guan1] /clerk of a law court/

1, 5, 1 梔子花 栀子花 [zhi1 zi5 hua1] /cape jasmine (Gardenia jasminoides)/

1, 5, 1 椰子汁 椰子汁 [ye1 zi5 zhi1] /coconut water/

1, 5, 1 椰子貓 椰子猫 [ye1 zi5 mao1] /Asian palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus), also called toddy cat/

1, 5, 1 歐巴桑 欧巴桑 [ou1 ba5 sang1] /older female/woman of mature years (Japanese loanword)/

1, 5, 1 滴答聲 滴答声 [di1 da5 sheng1] /tick (tock)/

1, 5, 1 玻璃心 玻璃心 [bo1 li5 xin1] /(slang) overly sensitive/butthurt/

1, 5, 1 玻璃杯 玻璃杯 [bo1 li5 bei1] /drinking glass/

1, 5, 1 玻璃砂 玻璃砂 [bo1 li5 sha1] /siliceous sand (geology)/

1, 5, 1 玻璃鋼 玻璃钢 [bo1 li5 gang1] /glass-reinforced plastic/fiberglass/

1, 5, 1 生意經 生意经 [sheng1 yi5 jing1] /knack of doing business/business sense/

1, 5, 1 眵目糊 眵目糊 [chi1 mu5 hu1] /(dialect) gum (in one's eyes)/

1, 5, 1 胳肢窩 胳肢窝 [ga1 zhi5 wo1] /armpit/also pr. [ge1 zhi5 wo1]/also written 夾肢窩|夹肢窝[ga1 zhi5 wo1]/

1, 5, 1 芝麻包 芝麻包 [zhi1 ma5 bao1] /sesame bun/

As for the second question about the neutral tone being lexical or sandhi, I think the answer is "lexical". I'm not aware of any sandhi rule governing the neutral tone.

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例1:他跑得(de)真快!!

In here 得 is a neutral tone.

例2:这位老大(da)爷看起来年轻!

In here 大 is a neutral tone.

  • 跑得 is not a word – user3306356 Dec 26 '17 at 13:25
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    跑得快 is a phrase that cannot be split. – moiaussi06 Dec 26 '17 at 19:06
  • 2
    I would use neutral for 爷 instead of 大 – fefe Dec 27 '17 at 1:05

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