Speech Prosody 2010

Chicago, IL, USA
May 10-14, 2010

Harmony and Tension in Mandarin Chinese Prosody: Constraints and Opportunities of Lexical Tones in Discourse Markers

Li-chiung Yang

English Language Center, Department of Foreign Languages & Literature, Tunghai University, Taichung, Taiwan

Prosody in tonal languages such as Mandarin provides a fascinating test on the universal character and attributes of prosody in natural language. Prosodic variation is a key element in marking intention, cognitive states, and topic development, and answers to how these communicative goals are accomplished in Mandarin provide enlightening discoveries on the universality of prosodic forces and shapes. This paper analyzes prosody and tonal interaction in the use of two most frequently occurring discourse markers in Chinese, ranhou ‘RŒã, gthenh and jiushi A¥gthat ish, each of which plays a critically important role in signaling relationships among topic elements and the mental and interactional states of participants during conversations. The current study investigates how the lexical tones and usage of these markers interact with prosody to bring about the desired communicative goal in spontaneous natural conversation.

Index Terms: prosody, universality, lexical tones, discourse markers, Mandarin

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Yang, Li-chiung (2010): "Harmony and tension in Mandarin Chinese prosody: constraints and opportunities of lexical tones in discourse markers", In SP-2010, paper 849.