3

發 and 髮 have been simplified into one single character: 发.

发 contains the separate meanings of 發 and 髮 but differentiates by tone: fa1 (fā) and fa4 (fà).

Most topolects (西安,武汉,洛阳,乌鲁木齐,贵阳,济南,柳州,万荣,etc.) don't have a tonal differentiation and 发 only has one pronunciation.

What is the origin of the tonal differentiation in Mandarin?

  • 2
    This must have been a relatively late split in northern topolects. In MC reconstructions 發 and 髮 were identical, and even in OC reconstructions they were incredibly similar. – droooze Mar 16 '18 at 11:00
  • as you stated, they are different characters in ancient, simplified form is just artificial (merged some variants based on similar concept/semantic into single form). – Daniel Yeung Mar 23 '18 at 0:59
2

We might never know the real reason. All those rime books indicate that 發 (out) and 髮 (hair) are always the same pronunciation, and both are entering tone (入聲). This means there is a terminal -t in pronunciation on 發 and 髮. We know that when -t was lost in Mandarin and the tones became unstable. In Chinese phonology it is named 派入三聲. The entering tone (入聲) was gone and all characters in entering tone go to the rest three tones, namely the flat tone (平聲), the rising tone (上聲) and the leaving tone (去聲). In this way, it is possible that 發 and 髮 develops different tones in Mandarin.

-1

The two characters pronounce the same in some dialects may be a coincidence. I come from Xi'an, you are right, we really read 发 in 头发 and 发展 in same tone. But there are also characters with different tones in our dialect, but the same in Mandarin. Dialect does not necessarily correspond to Mandarin one by one, it usually has its own rules. The tones of most characters in northern dialects correspond to Mandarin one by one usually, but not all of the characters. Comparatively, the tones of most southern dialects are not regular like northern.

  • I guess my point was: Putonghua, as a pretty artificial language, has some weird things that aren’t found in many topolects - so where’d it come from. – user3306356 Mar 16 '18 at 11:23
  • @user3306356 They actually come from nowhere, just as OmniBus answered. It a phenomenon of langage evolution from its own. – Harry Summer May 16 '18 at 8:14

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