March 29, 2011


Cantonese is spoken by over 40 million people in southern China in the Guangdong (including Hong Kong) and Guangxi Provinces, as well as in Britain, Canada, Australia, and USA and many other parts of the world. There are 19 consonants, 11 vowels, 11 diphthongs, and 9 tones in Cantonese.
Cantonese has16 oral consonants
/p, ph, t, th, k, kh, kw, kwh, ts, tsh, f, s, h, w, j, l/

and 3 nasal consonants /m, n, ŋ/.
There are 11 vowels in Cantonese: 7 long vowels /i, y, ɛ, œ, а, ɔ, u/ and 4 short vowels /ɪ, ɵ, ʊ, ɐ/. Of the short vowels, /ɪ, ɵ, ʊ/ are allophones of /i, œ, u/ respectively.

There are 11 diphthongs /аi, ei, ɐi, ui, ɔi, аu, ɐu, iu, ou, ɵy, eu/.

The syllable structure of Cantonese is (C)V(C) and there are six possible syllable structures in Cantonese: V, C, CV, VC, CVV, and CVC. Only two syllables have a single consonant as a syllable: namely /m/ and /ŋ/.

Cantonese uses tones to differentiate lexical meaning. There are six contrastive tones (high level, high rise, mid level, low fall, low rise, and low level) plus three entering tones for syllables that end with /–p/, /–t/ or /–k/.

Cantonese uses syllable-timed rhythm.

Source: So, L. K. H. (2007). Cantonese speech acquisition In S. McLeod (Ed.), The international guide to speech acquisition (pp. 313-326). Clifton Park, NY: Thomson Delmar Learning.
With advice from Dr Carol Kit Sum To.

Visitor from Hong Kong

Dr Carol Kit Sum To has spent the week in Bathurst at Charles Sturt University. Carol and I worked together at the University of Hong Kong last year. Since then we have been working on journal articles, a book chapter, conference presentation, and a grant. This week she spoke with my research students about professional practice in Hong Kong and we submitted a journal article about children's acquisition of Hong Kong Cantonese. While she has been here it has been interesting comparing Bathurst with Hong Kong -- we have very few cars and people and a lot of grass and open space compared with HK.

March 23, 2011

Memorial service for the people of Ōkuma and Japan

Over 140 members of the Bathurst community came together at Bathurst City Uniting Church on Wednesday 23 March for a memorial service for the people of Ōkuma and Japan following the earthquake and tsunami. The service was attended by the Mayor and Bathurst Regional Council members, the Sister City Working Party, clergy and members of the churches of Bathurst, staff and students from Denison College (Bathurst and Kelso High Campuses), Charles Sturt University, MacKillop College, St Stanislaus College, All Saints School, and citizens of Bathurst who have visited and hosted visitors from Ōkuma and Japan. It has been estimated that over the past 20 years around 1000 Bathurst residents have either visited Ōkuma or hosted visitors from Ōkuma. Father Yoshihiro Okawa from Japan also was involved in the service. As a result of the service $1088.90 was donated to the Bathurst-Ōkuma Appeal. School students made hundreds of paper cranes, that will be sent to the residents of Ōkuma.
We also remembered the people of Christchurch in New Zealand, who also are rebuilding their city and their lives after recent earthquakes.

Western Advocate stories (22 March 2011; 24 March 2011)
Insights story (April, 2011)

Mrs. Fudeko Reekie, Father Okawa, Cr. Monica Morse,
Prof. Sharynne McLeod, Rev. 'Oto Faiva

March 19, 2011


Japanese is spoken by over 127 million people in Japan as well as by immigrant groups, particularly in Hawai’i and Brazil.
Japanese has 15 consonants: /p, b, t, d, k, g, m, n, N, r(flap), s, z, h, w, j/ and a number of allophones.
Japanese has five short vowels, /a, i, u, e, o/, and five long vowels /a:, i:, u:, e:, o:/.
The syllable structure of Japanese can be described in the formula: (C)(j)VV(C).

Only two types of consonant can occur at the end of a syllable:
  • a nasal: that can occur at the end of a syllable and/or a word (e.g., /hoN/ [hoN] ‘book,’)
  • a plosive or fricative: that can only occur within a word (e.g., /sak.ka/ [sak:a] ‘writer,’)
The only cluster allowed is a two-consonant onset cluster with /j/ in the second position. (e.g., /kjoo/ [kjo:] ‘today’).
Japanese is often cited as a textbook example of a lexical pitch-accent language. All words are either accented or unaccented, and accented words have one accented syllable. The accent consists of a sequence of high and low pitch levels.
Three writing systems are used.
  • Kanji, is a set of ideographic characters borrowed from Chinese. The Japanese Ministry of Education teaches a set of 1,945 characters to primary and secondary school students, but most educated people know a few thousand more characters. Each character represents a semantic concept.
  • Hiragana has 46 symbols to represent sound units. Hiragana is mainly used to write inflections and various bound morphemes. Each symbol stands for a portion of the syllable. (e.g., /toru/ ‘to take’ is written as とる (to-ru)).
  • Katakana also has 46 symbols to represent sound units. Katakana is used to transcribe foreign loanwords.
Source: Ota, M., & Ueda, I. (2007). Japanese speech acquisition In S. McLeod (Ed.), The international guide to speech acquisition (pp. 457-471). Clifton Park, NY: Thomson Delmar Learning.

Earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis in Japan

This week the world has been shocked by the news of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan. The city of Ōkuma is where the Fukushima Daiichi (No.1) nuclear power plant is located. Ōkuma is the sister city of my own city, Bathurst.

The school that my children attend was to host 11 students from Ōkuma this week (arriving 20th March). Of the 11 students, 7 have fathers who work at the Fukushima Daiichi (No.1) nuclear power plant. This news story from the Sydney Morning Herald is likely to be about some of these children.

My son has previously visited Ōkuma as part of learning Japanese at his local high school. Here is a photo of him near the Fukushima Daiichi (No.1) nuclear power plant in 2009 (source: Facebook).

In April this year I was to visit Ōkuma with my husband, children, and 41 others from their high school. I had taken leave to do this, but knew that it would assist me with my Future Fellowship, to give me great insights into: the lives of Japanese children, how Australian and Japanese children learn languages, and the Japanese language. The trip has been cancelled and our thoughts are with our sister city in Japan. This is a news story from our local paper, the Western Advocate and another story.

In response to the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis I have been on the team to organise a memorial service to be held at Bathurst City Uniting Church on 23rd March, 2011. This service will be attended by the Mayor and Bathurst City councillors, students and teachers from local high schools, university staff and students, and people from across Bathurst who have visited Japan, hosted visitors from Japan, and who are thinking of the people of Japan at this sad time.
The service will also remember the people of Christchurch, in New Zealand, where 182 people died as a result of the earthquake in February. I was in Christchurch only a few weeks before the devastating earthquake. My colleagues and friends are all safe, but all have been affected by these events.

March 9, 2011

Students in 2011

I am very fortunate to work with talented research higher degree students. This year they include
  • PhD students: Kate Crowe and Jacqui Barr
  • Masters student: Rebekah Lockart
  • Honours students: Nicole Limbrick and Hannah Wilkin 
In March, I have also spoken to:
  • Masters students studying Pharmacy at Charles Sturt University (CSU) about writing their literature reviews
  • Research supervisors across CSU about my philosophy of research higher degree supervision