Variation in Macau Cantonese: The case of initial and final segments

Werner Botha, Lawrie Barnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This article considers how meaningful social differences are conveyed through the use of initial and final segments in Macau Cantonese. The research presented in this article provides a sociolinguistic account of the use of initial and final segments in Macau Cantonese, and specifically illustrates how social meanings of initials and finals are variable, and do not only subsume explanations that derive from internal linguistic constraint categories. This study employed an eclectic and multidimensional sociolinguistic approach that combines sociolinguistic survey methods, social network theory and constructionist approaches, with a view to accounting for the dynamics underlying initial and final segment variation in Macau Cantonese. Results of this study indicate that social constraints such as conversation topic, the affective relations between interlocutors, and other social factors such as gender and social class possibly impinge on the distribution and use of initials and finals in Macau Cantonese.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-235
Number of pages31
JournalInternational Journal of the Sociology of Language
Issue number236
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Initial and final segments in Cantonese
  • Language variation
  • Macau Cantonese
  • Social network theory
  • Variationist sociolinguistics


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