Contact-induced sound change: analysis of the alveolar lateral fricative in Yami


  • Li-Fang Lai National Taiwan University
  • Huiju Hsu National Taiwan Normal University



language contact, sound change, speech community, social network integration, cross-linguistic influence, Yami


Language change manifests itself in various ways. The majority of studies on language change in Yami, an endangered Austronesian language spoken on Orchid Island, Taiwan, have centered on the rapid language shift from Yami to Mandarin within the speech community (Chen 1998, Li and Ho 1988, Lin 2007, Rau 1995). The present study, however, aims to explore whether the sound change of [ɮ] to [l] in Yami (e.g., soli [ʂuɮi] > [ʂuli] 'taro') is triggered by language contact between Mandarin and Yami. Three variables were considered: Mandarin competence, Mandarinspeaking frequency, and social network integration. The results showed that the three variables were strongly correlated with sound change. Participants possessing advanced Mandarin competence, higher Mandarin-speaking frequency, and/or weaker social network integration into the Yami community (i.e., greater exposure to Mandarin) tended to exhibit the highest rate of sound change, which might be attributed to a cross-linguistic influence from Mandarin to Yami through extensive language contact.


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How to Cite

Lai, L.-F., & Hsu, H. (2013). Contact-induced sound change: analysis of the alveolar lateral fricative in Yami. Eesti Ja Soome-Ugri Keeleteaduse Ajakiri. Journal of Estonian and Finno-Ugric Linguistics, 4(2), 31–50.