Prosodic focus marking in Dali Mandarin

Zenghui Liu, Hans Van de Velde, Aoju Chen

´╗┐This study investigated prosodic marking of focus in Dali Mandarin, a variety of Xinan Guanhua (Southwestern Mandarin) spoken in Dali city, the capital of Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, China. Dali Mandarin as a variety of Mandarin has had heavy contact with Bai, a Tibeto-Burman language, for a long time. We adopted a semi-spontaneous experimental approach to elicit SVO sentences with different focus conditions. Our data showed that native speakers of Dali Mandarin lengthened the duration of focal constituents compared to non-focal constituents for marking focus. However, they did not use duration to distinguish focus types differing in size and contrastivity. Further, pitch played no role at all in signaling focus, or in differentiating focus types. These results thus suggested that Dali Mandarin speakers use prosody by exploiting duration to mark focus. Therefore, the encoding of focus in Dali Mandarin is more similar to Bai than to Beijing Mandarin, the latter being genetically more closely related to Dali Mandarin. This result suggests that prosodic focus marking in Dali Mandarin has been influenced by Bai due to the heavy language contact.

DOI: 10.21437/TAL.2016-22

Cite as

Liu, Z., Van de Velde, H., Chen, A. (2016) Prosodic focus marking in Dali Mandarin. Proc. Tonal Aspects of Languages 2016, 103-106.

author={Zenghui Liu and Hans Van de Velde and Aoju Chen},
title={Prosodic focus marking in Dali Mandarin},
booktitle={Tonal Aspects of Languages 2016},