Neutral Tone
(5,532 words)

Běijīng Mandarin is commonly described as having four tones. Yet this apparently simple assertion turns out to be a complicated and controversial question, because it depends on the status of the so-called neutral tone. The term neutral tone, known in Chinese as qīngshēng 輕聲 'light tone', was first introduced by Chao in the 1920s (Chao 2002) to describe the pitch pattern of some syll…

Cite this page
Yiya CHEN, “Neutral Tone”, in: Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics, General Editor Rint Sybesma. Consulted online on 24 April 2017 <>
First published online: 2015

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