Notational equivalence in tonal geometry


This paper employs a computational framework to demonstrate that two competing feature-geometric models of tonal representation are notationally equivalent. A model-theoretic analysis of these structures using a low-complexity logic yields two main results. First, the current study demonstrates that the models do not differ in their empirical coverage of assimilatory tone sandhi processes in Chinese dialects, contra previous claims. Second, the models are shown to be bi-interpretable (using a more restrictive definition of bi-interpretability than earlier studies), thus providing a formally-rigorous demonstration that differences between the models’ structure is superficial, not substantive. The computational characterization pursued here is well-suited to questions of notational equivalence because it allows for a principled comparison of two models’ empirical coverage and structural content using a single formalism.

Phonology 37.2
Chris Oakden
Chris Oakden
PhD Candidate

My research interests include phonological representation, Chinese tone sandhi, and process interactions