In a tonal language like Cantonese, how is stress assigned to loanwords (from languages which don't have a tone distinction)?

For example, Hong Kong Cantonese has various words borrowed from English, a language without a tone distinction. Words such as:

  • baa1 si2 'bus'
  • saam1 man4 zi6 'sandwich'
  • saam1 man4 jyu2 'salmon'

So how is it so that these loanwords attain the tone pattern that they do? Is there some kind of pattern?

  • There's a bit on this in Modern Cantonese Phonology (摩登廣州話語音學) by Benedict & Bauer, but I don't have a copy on hand at the moment. They suggested that stressed syllables often end up with tone 1 (level high).
    – jogloran
    Apr 30, 2013 at 0:58
  • @Aerlinthe: Yup, it's a duplicate. Apr 30, 2013 at 21:24
  • My sincerest oopsies! For some reason, I hadn't searched for a duplicate. Apr 30, 2013 at 21:36
  • According to the people at Chinese.SE they will sound just like in their origin language and won't get tones at all, not even the neutral tone. Unless they mean that's only for borrowings from English and/or only for borrowing acronyms: Do acronyms borrowed from English use neutral tone for all syllables? Sep 28, 2013 at 12:51


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