Speech Prosody 2002

Aix-en-Provence, France
April 11-13, 2002

A Prosodic Analysis of Wh-words in Standard Chinese

Fang Hu

Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics, City University of Hong Kong

This paper is a phonetic study of prosody of wh-words in whquestions, yes/no-questions and echo questions in Standard Chinese. The production data from 4 speakers show that there is a prosodic difference of wh-words and the corresponding VPs between different question types. Wh-words in whquestions are the focus of sentence, whereas in yes/noquestions, VPs are the focus. The focused constituent is pitch accented so that its lexical tonal melody is retained and sometimes reinforced, while the lexical tonal melody of the corresponding unfocused constituent is compressed and sometimes reduced to a level tone. Speakers usually produce echo questions with a raised F0 register and an expanded F0 range of the wh-words to convey a meaning of surprise. However, no consistent data suggest that either duration or amplitude correlates with the focus vs. non-focus distinction.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Hu, Fang (2002): "A prosodic analysis of wh-words in standard Chinese", In SP-2002, 403-406.