In this paper we discuss the four tones of Standard (Beijing) Mandarin Chinese. First, we will suggest a proposal for their phonological representation. Then, we discuss the order in which they are acquired in first language acquisition, relating this both to the representations we propose and to the relative frequency with which these tones appear in the most frequently used Chinese words. It turns out that the former predicts the order of acquisition more closely than the latter: We provide an explanation for this based on the early stage at which the tones are acquired.
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