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This paper centers on tonal representation of Chinese Wenzhou dialect. Tonal behaviors in Wenzhou indicate that tone is on an independent tier to the segment. Also, because of the complex of register and contour, Chinese tones have been represented with a structure of two dimensions, i.e. register and contour. However, these representations present an insolvable dilemma when analyzing the tonal behavior of Wenzhou dialect. Noticing that tone sandhi in Wenzhou is totally blind to register, we will propose that register is not an underlying feature for Wenzhou tone. We will further suggest that it is the initial consonant that carries the feature of register. This paper will conclude that the tonal representation of Wenzhou dialect has only one level, the tonal contour is formed by concatenation of level tones, and initial consonants carry the burden of meaning distinction that “tonal register” is supposed to carry.

In: Bulletin of Chinese Linguistics