Speech Prosody 2006

Dresden, Germany
May 2-5, 2006

Emphasis, Syllable Duration, and Tonal Realization in Standard Chinese

Yiya Chen

Center of Language Studies; Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands

This study investigates how durational and F0 cues are employed to convey degrees of emphasis in Standard Chinese (SC). Three speakers of SC produced all four lexical tones embedded in sentences in which the preceding and following tonal contexts of the target syllable varied. Subjects were primed with pragmatic contexts in which corrective focus, with two degrees of emphasis on the target syllable (i.e. Emphasis and More-Emphasis), was elicited, in addition to a No-Emphasis condition (which served as the baseline for comparison).

Results showed a gradual increase of syllable duration in that the magnitude of increase from the No-Emphasis to the Emphasis condition and that from the Emphasis to the More- Emphasis condition were comparable. F0 range expansion, however, was non-gradual. While there was a robust increase of F0 range from the No-Emphasis to the Emphasis condition, the expansion from the Emphasis to the More-Emphasis condition was much more reduced. Examination of the F0 adjustment of the individual tones suggests that under corrective focus with the two degrees of emphasis, lexical tones were realized with distinctive F0 contours, adapting to both the neighboring tonal contexts and the gradual increase of the tone-carrying syllable duration.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Chen, Yiya (2006): "Emphasis, syllable duration, and tonal realization in standard Chinese", In SP-2006, paper 053.