Manusya, Journal of Humanities

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The aim of this paper is to present the phonological variation in Phuan, part of the author's research. The Phuan language studied in this research project is spoken in Fay Mun village, Pa Kha sub-district, Tha Wang Pha district, Nan province. The findings show that phonological variation in Phuan occurs in all age-groups. The initial consonants /pʰ, tʰ, kʰ/ have variants [pʰ-p, tʰ-t, kʰ-k-x] respectively. This variation is found mostly in the middle age and the younger groups. The initial consonant /s/ is pronounced as [s], [cʰ] and [c] while the initial /h/ is pronounced as [h] and [l] in Phuan. These two cases of variation are mostly found in the younger age-group. Concerning the final consonants in Phuan, only one case of variation is found, that is the final consonant /ʔ/ occurring in dead syllables with long vowels (CVːʔ). It is pronounced as [ʔ] or [k] by all three age-groups but the younger group use the variant [k] more than the other two groups. As for the vowels, it is found that the diphthong /iə/ has three variants [iə, ɨə, əː] while /uə/ has two variants [uə, oː]. The vowel /əː/, uniquely found in Phuan, is also in the process of change, i.e. it has two variants: [əː] and [ay]. The variation in both consonants and vowels has been influenced by Kam Mueang/Nyuan, Standard Thai, and Lue via Kam Mueang/Nyuan loanwords. The tonal variation is another interesting phenomenon in Phuan. There are six tones in Phuan and the research findings show that Tone 1 /Low-Rising/ is pronounced as [Low-Rising] by both elder and middle-age groups but consistently as [Low-Falling] by the younger-age group. The other two tones which seem to have variation, though not as clearly as in the case of Tone 1, is that the younger-age group tends to pronounce Tone 2 /Mid-Rising/ as [Low-Rising] and all three age-groups pronounce Tone 6 /High-Falling with glottalization/ in some lexical items as [Mid Level with glottalization]. The variation of Tone 1 is hypothesized to be induced by an internal factor, i.e. tonal simplification, and the variation of Tones 2 and 6 are influenced by Kam Mueang/Nyuan.

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