[quote=“hannes”]Mandarin and Chinese have a lot of similarities, for example the English “good” is “hao” in Mandarin and “ho” in Taiwanese. Easy to see that those two are basically the same words.
So why is it that in Mandarin it’s “hao3” and in Taiwanese it’s “ho4”? And this seems to be a rule of some kind. 3rd tone in Mandarin means 4th tone in Taiwanese for words that are identical.
Is this based on a kind of deliberate act by ancient people in Fujian, like they pronounced everything different on purpose to show their opposition against the rulers who spoke Mandarin? Or is it just coincidence?[/quote]
This analogy extends to Cantonese, too: the Mandarin 3rd tone has a very high correspondence to the Cantonese high rising tone.
This is because all these stem from the “shang sheng” tone of Middle Chinese, and there remains a correspondence. There are other tonal correspondences. The nine tones of Cantonese can be traced to a “yin/yang” split of all four Middle Chinese tones due to loss of consonant voicing, plus a further split of one of the “entering” tones nased on vowel length.
In Mandarin, the “yin/yang” split only occurred in the “ping sheng”, resulting in the modern “1st” and “2nd” tones, while the “entering tone” disappeared entirely, and the syllables are now distribute among the other tones.
As for Taiwanese, the language still preserves the voiced /b/ and /g/ consonants of Middle Chinese that are lost in Mandarin and Cantonese, while the /d/ became the Taiwanese /l/. I don’t know anything about how the Taiwanese tones developed.
I don’t know if the changes were conscious or not. Many languages have histories of conscious change (e.g. a certain dialect or pronunciation falling into favor or disfavor for political reasons). But I suspect it’s natural, given the continuity of mutual intelligibilty along the Chinese coast extending from Guangdong all the way to the north…at least I have read about it, I’m not an expert in it. The dialects developed from Middle Chinese over a period of some 1500 years, diverging due to distance, isolation and poor communication.