Document Type


Publication/Presentation Date

January 2020

Conference Location

New Orleans, LA


Unlike many previous studies of heritage speakers showing phonological maintenance, this presentation will show evidence for a vowel merger among second-generation Toronto Cantonese speakers. Two pairs of vowels are tested for merger. Both pairs are hypothesized to merge due to the lack of similar contrasts in Toronto English: /y/~/u/ and /a/~/ɔ/. Results show merger for only /y/~/u/. This is argued to be due to the lower functional load of /y/~/u/ (three minimal pairs with /y/~/u/, but 105 minimal pairs for /a/~/ɔ/) and due to lower token frequency of /y/ and /u/ compared to /a/ and /ɔ/ in conversational speech.