Tone Variations in Regionally Accented Mandarin

Yanping Li, Catherine T. Best, Michael D. Tyler, Denis Burnham

The present study investigated tone variations in regionally accented Mandarin (i.e., Standard Mandarin [SM] spoken by dialectal Chinese speakers) as influenced by the varying tone systems of their native dialects. 12 female speakers, four each from Guangzhou, Shanghai and Yantai, were recruited to produce monosyllabic words in SM that included minimal contrasts among the four Mandarin lexical tones. Since SM developed from the Beijing dialect, their pronunciations were compared to the same Mandarin words produced by four Beijing female speakers. Regional Mandarin speakers successfully produced the four Mandarin lexical tones, but their productions varied from SM. Two crucial acoustic measures for Mandarin lexical tones, F0 (fundamental frequency) and duration values, were fitted into linear mixed-effects models on differences between regional and Beijing accents. Regional speakers had longer word duration and different F0 height when producing SM, resulting in variations in Mandarin lexical tones across the regional accents. These findings shed light on regional accent variations in Mandarin lexical tones and lay a foundation for deeper understanding of their impact on perception of accented Mandarin lexical tones by native (Beijing) Mandarin listeners.

 DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2020-1235

Cite as: Li, Y., Best, C.T., Tyler, M.D., Burnham, D. (2020) Tone Variations in Regionally Accented Mandarin. Proc. Interspeech 2020, 4158-4162, DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2020-1235.

  author={Yanping Li and Catherine T. Best and Michael D. Tyler and Denis Burnham},
  title={{Tone Variations in Regionally Accented Mandarin}},
  booktitle={Proc. Interspeech 2020},