Sentence Prosody and Wh-Indeterminates in Taiwan Mandarin

Yu-Yin Hsu, Anqi Xu

We report results of a speech production experiment about the intonation of three sentence types in Taiwan Mandarin, and discuss our results with implications for focus acoustics, and semantic-syntactic theories of sentence final particles and wh-indeterminates. Wh-indeterminates refer to wh-phrases that are ambiguous between interrogative and indefinite readings. In Mandarin, different interpretations of wh-indeterminates are not morphologically marked, but can be disambiguated in specific sentence contexts marked by sentence final particles. In this study, we systematically examined the intonation of wh-questions and yes/no questions by using declarative sentences as the baseline. The results show that both wh- and yes/no questions exhibit F0 prominence, and lengthening effects on regions containing sentence-final particles and wh-phrases, but the effects were stronger in wh-questions. Examining the duration and F0 range, we found that wh-phrases and sentence final particles together formed specific acoustic patterns to distinguish questions from declarative sentences. The findings suggest that the prosodic organization interacts with other internal structural organization.

 DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2019-2545

Cite as: Hsu, Y., Xu, A. (2019) Sentence Prosody and Wh-Indeterminates in Taiwan Mandarin. Proc. Interspeech 2019, 3950-3954, DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2019-2545.

  author={Yu-Yin Hsu and Anqi Xu},
  title={{Sentence Prosody and  Wh-Indeterminates in Taiwan Mandarin}},
  booktitle={Proc. Interspeech 2019},