The Role of the Final Tone in Singaling Statements and Questions in Mandarin

Una Chow, Stephen Winters


This study investigated the role of the F0 height of the final tone in signaling the difference between Mandarin statements and echo questions. We recorded native speakers producing pairs of statements and echo questions ending in the four Mandarin tones (high, rising, low, and falling). The first two syllables of the utterances comprised pairs of high and low tones, or rising and falling tones. From these pairs of tones, we extracted the speaker’s F0 range at the start of the utterance. With the speaker’s initial F0 range serving as a baseline, we compared the difference between statements and echo questions in two ways: 1) using the overall mean of the F0 height of the final tone of each sentence type, and 2) using the mean difference in F0 height of the final tone between the sentences in each statement-question pair. The results of ANOVAs suggest that the F0 height of the final tone is a potential cue for the identification of statements versus echo questions in Mandarin. However, since significant differences in F0 were found between only some of the final tonal pairs, native speakers must also use other prosodic cues to distinguish statements from echo questions in Mandarin.


DOI: 10.21437/TAL.2016-36

Cite as

Chow, U., Winters, S. (2016) The Role of the Final Tone in Singaling Statements and Questions in Mandarin. Proc. Tonal Aspects of Languages 2016, 167-171.

Bibtex
@inproceedings{Chow+2016,
author={Una Chow and Stephen Winters},
title={The Role of the Final Tone in Singaling Statements and Questions in Mandarin},
year=2016,
booktitle={Tonal Aspects of Languages 2016},
doi={10.21437/TAL.2016-36},
url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/TAL.2016-36},
pages={167--171}
}