Tianheng Wang

WangTianheng Wang (she/her)
王天恒 [wɑŋ˧˥ tʰjɛn˥ xɤŋ˧˥]

PhD Student in Linguistics, Nankai University
Tianjin, China

Research interest: phonetics, computational linguistics, tonology, Chinese historical linguistics, early Beijing Mandarin

Contact: tw1701@nyu.edu

Journal Papers

  • Wang, Tianheng. 2026 (in press). Tones of Beijing dialect since 1900 and their evolution: Evidence from early recordings. Language and Linguistics 27(1). Abstract: Since the discovery of real-time tone evolution in Thai and Chinese dialects, the existence of circular tone shift has been largely confirmed. The clockwise shift (high > rising > low > falling > high) has been found to be more prevalent than the counterclockwise shift (high > falling > low > rising > high). This study extracted tone patterns from 5 early recordings of citation tones in Beijing dialect dating from 1900 to the 1930s, and performed a quantitative acoustic analysis of tone evolution of Beijing dialect by comparing tonal differences between early recordings, early experimental results, and modern data. A clockwise tone shift in Beijing dialect since 1900 is confirmed: T1, high convex falling > high level; T2, high convex rising > mid concave rising; T3, low rising > low falling-rising, with intensified creakiness; and T4, lower falling > higher falling. By integrating our results with earlier documentation, we uncover a nearly completed circle of the fast-paced tone shift: the tone value of each tone has almost shifted to the value of its downstream tone in the clockwise direction over approximately 200 years. We identify two possible motivations for tone evolution in Beijing dialect: truncation-like effects coupled with hypocorrection, and push/drag effects between neighboring tones. Our findings provide concrete evidence for clockwise tone shift and contribute to a better understanding of tone evolution.
  • Alkhattabi, Muhannad, Wei Huang, Ke Xu, Tianheng Wang & Qibin Ran. 2024. The voice acoustic analysis of cross-regional accented English speakers: Based on recordings from IDEA and SAA (跨地区口音英语发音人的嗓音声学分析——以IDEA和SAA的录音为例). Nankai Linguistics (南开语言学刊) 2024(1). 10–21.
  • Wang, Tianheng, Søren Wichmann, Quansheng Xia & Qibin Ran. 2023. Temperature shapes language sonority: Revalidation from a large dataset. PNAS Nexus 2(12). pgad384. doi: 10.1093/pnasnexus/pgad384
  • Liang, Yuzhu, Lining Wang, Søren Wichmann, Quansheng Xia, Shuai Wang, Jun Ding, Tianheng Wang & Qibin Ran. 2023. Languages in China link climate, voice quality, and tone in a causal chain. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications 10. 453. doi: 10.1057/s41599-023-01969-4

Conference Poster

  • Wang, Tianheng (王天恒). 2021. 一种直观的调值格局可视化方法 (A novel approach to visualization of tone value pattern). The 14th Phonetic Conference of China (第十四届中国语音学学术会议) [PCC 2021], Lanzhou: Northwest Minzu University, 18–20 July 2021. doi: 10.5281/zenodo.10152833

Selected Presentations

  • Wang, Tianheng (王天恒). 2024. 切韵音系介音新构拟两题 (Two new reconstructions of medials in the Qièyùn system). Linguistics Salon (语言学沙龙) 4, Tianjin: Nankai University, 16 May 2024.
    1. 试论切韵重纽三等尚无介音 (Disproving the existence of Qièyùn’s non-chóngniǔ division-III medial). Abstract: 前人将切韵音系帮、见、影组声母拆分为三等、非三等两类,并认为见组非三等为小舌辅音。本文肯定上述观点,提出切韵音系帮、见、影组非三等同属 [+RTR](retracted tongue root,舌根偏后)这一自然类,其对应的三等声母则为 [−RTR] 的普通辅音。据反切和对音,切韵音系的无重纽三等韵(三等C类)应当没有介音,与对应的非三等韵靠声母的 [±RTR] 对立,仍和上古汉语格局相似;三等介音的音位化可能始于唐五代。新方案比以往更简洁,并且更能揭示早期中古汉语使用者的感知。
    2. 试论切韵二等为咽化元音 (On the reconstruction of pharyngealized vowels for Qièyùn division II). Abstract: 切韵二等韵来自上古汉语 *r介音现已成为共识,但其中古构拟仍有争议。本文重审二等韵在押韵、反切、对音、古今演变中表现出的特性,提出将其构拟为东北高加索语式的咽化元音。这种咽化元音具有偏低偏前色彩,需舌体呈双拱形姿态,形成硬腭–咽腔双重收紧,且与美国英语r的常见调音姿态相似。咽化更能有效解释中古二等的特性及来龙去脉,优于软腭介音和r介音的构拟。韵图的等 × 内外进而可以认为代表着一种垂直元音系统(vertical vowel system)。
  • Wang, Tianheng (王天恒). 2024. 试论切韵重纽三等尚无介音 (Disproving the existence of Qièyùn’s non-chóngniǔ division-III medial). The 5th Young Scholars’ Forum on Historical Linguistics (第五届历史语言学青年学者论坛), Beijing: Peking University, 20–21 Apr 2024. doi: 10.5281/zenodo.11017658
  • Wang, Tianheng (王天恒). 2023. 1900年以来北京话声调及其演变——来自早期录音的证据 (Tones of Beijing dialect since 1900 and their evolution: Evidence from early recordings). The 15th Phonetic Conference of China (第十五届中国语音学学术会议) [PCC 2023], Shenzhen: Southern University of Science and Technology, 7–10 Jul 2023.
  • Wang, Tianheng (王天恒). 2023. 再论中古汉语的四声:性质和演变 (Revisiting Middle Chinese tones: Characteristics and evolution). The 4th Young Scholars’ Forum on Historical Linguistics (第四届历史语言学青年学者论坛), Beijing: Peking University, 22–23 Apr 2023. doi: 10.5281/zenodo.10454374
  • Wang, Tianheng (王天恒). 2022. 刘宝全京韵大鼓录音反映的早期北京话io韵 (The final io in early Beijing dialect reflected in Liu Baoquan’s jingyun dagu recordings). The 19th National Academic Symposium on Early Mandarin (第十九届全国近代汉语学术研讨会), Dalian: Liaoning Normal University (online), 25–26 Jun 2022. Abstract: 京韵大鼓一代宗师刘宝全留有唱片和录像共33段,其语音带有许多早期北京话的特点。本文考察录音中的全部觉药韵细音字韵母,发现文读有io、üe的变异。通过提取文读韵母主元音的共振峰并绘制声学元音图,与其他ie、üe、uo韵对比,发现觉药韵细音字读üe时与普通üe韵无别,读io时主元音则与uo相同。io和üe的主元音无交集。由此证明io韵在19世纪北京话中仍是独立韵母。在刘宝全口中,io的介音在 [i] [y] 之间连续地自由变异,但io、üe之间的变异并不完全自由,部分字只读其中一种韵母。本文由此推测近代北京话io > üe以词汇扩散而非语音渐变的形式进行。

Open-Source Tools and Projects

Selected Data and Materials

  • Wang, Tianheng (王天恒). 2023. 对《齐梁陈隋押韵材料的数理分析》韵次数据的修正 (A revision of rhyme count data from Mathematical analysis of rhyming materials of Qi, Liang, Chen, and Sui). Zenodo. doi: 10.5281/zenodo.10153223
  • Mikazuki, Ayaka (三日月绫香) & Tianheng Wang (王天恒) (eds.). 2023. 《王三》小韵全表 (Complete syllable table of Wangsan). Zenodo. doi: 10.5281/zenodo.10499263
  • Wang, Tianheng (王天恒) (trans.). 2020. VoQS:音质符号(2016中英双语版) (VoQS: Voice Quality Symbols (2016 in Chinese)). Zenodo. doi: 10.5281/zenodo.10206204


2022–PhD in Linguistics, Nankai University

2017–2019MS in Computer Science, New York University

2013–2017BS in Fundamental Sciences (Chemistry and Biology), Tsinghua University


7 Jan 2019Excellent Influencer, Zhihu Linguistics, Beijing

4 Dec 2012Gold Medal, The 26th Chinese Chemistry Olympiad, Tianjin

Selected Middle Chinese Performances

  • 2022. 晚期中古汉语三十六字母歌 (36 Initials Song of the Late Middle Chinese). bilibili YouTube
  • 2022. 神女劈观 (The Divine Damsel of Devastation). (Sung in Early Tang Chinese) bilibili YouTube
  • 2019. 苏幕遮·燎沈香 (Sumuzhe (Liao Chenxiang)). (Sung in Northern Song Mandarin) bilibili YouTube
  • 2019. 八扇屏·莽撞人 (Bashanping: Mangzhuang Ren). 2019 Summer Workshop on Chinese Historical Phonology (2019年中国音韵学暑期讲习班), Tianjin, 1–6 Jul 2019. (Recited in Early Middle Chinese)