Speech Prosody 2010

Chicago, IL, USA
May 10-14, 2010

Contrastive Focus in Mandarin Chinese

Markus Greif

SFB 632, Project D2 "Typology of Information Structure", Potsdam University

The present study investigates the prosodic realization of two types of contrastive (i.e., corrective) foci relative to wh-focus in Mandarin Chinese: the semantic alternative-based and a discourse-pragmatic type of contrastive focus according to which the contrast is primarily yielded by assumptions on speaker-hearer expectations on the Common Ground. It can be shown that the pragmatically oriented corrective focus is marked more distinctively in terms of prosody than is the alternative-based. Based on this empirical evidence, it is suggested to re-evaluate the current definition of contrast which mainly refers to semantic alternatives and to integrate the findings into existing models on the implementation of lexical tones.

Index Terms: corrective focus, wh-focus, lexical tones, speaker-hearer expectations, semantic alternatives

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Greif, Markus (2010): "Contrastive focus in Mandarin Chinese", In SP-2010, paper 836.