Speech Prosody 2006

Dresden, Germany
May 2-5, 2006

Prosodic Encoding of Topic and Focus in Mandarin

Bei Wang (1), Yi Xu (2,3)

(1) University of Potsdam, Germany; (2) University College London, UK; (3) Haskins Laboratories, New Haven, CT, USA

In this study, we investigate whether and how focus and topic can be separately encoded in Mandarin. A total of 60 sentences with three lengths and five tone combinations were recorded in four topic-focus conditions: initial focus, new topic, implicit topic and given topic, by six speakers. The results of acoustic analysis show that new topic is encoded with a raised pitch range on the initial word. Focus, in contrast, is encoded with an expanded pitch range on the focused word and a suppressed pitch range on the subsequent words.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Wang, Bei / Xu, Yi (2006): "Prosodic encoding of topic and focus in Mandarin", In SP-2006, paper 172.