Speech Prosody 2012

Shanghai, China
May 22-25, 2012

Disambiguation of Tonally Unspecified Mandarin Syllables

Christopher Huff (1), Elinor Payne (2)

(1) Faculty of Linguistics, Philology, and Phonetics, University of Oxford and Hertford College, Oxford, UK
(2) Phonetics Laboratory, University of Oxford and St Hilda's College, Oxford, UK

The interpretation of written Mandarin monosyllables presented in tonally unspecified pinyin was investigated for 22 native speakers. Results showed a preference for high relative lexical frequency and, to a lesser extent low homophone density candidates, with some interaction between these two factors: where one candidate in a homophone cohort had a particularly high frequency, cohort density was found to play little or no role in selection. Where the frequency of the two most frequent candidates was comparable, characters from lower density tonal homophone cohorts were preferred. These results indicate a strong role for relative lexical frequency and, through the weaker homophone density effect a lesser role for tone, in Mandarin homophone disambiguation.

Index Terms: tone, Mandarin, homophony

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Huff, Christopher / Payne, Elinor (2012): "Disambiguation of tonally unspecified Mandarin syllables", In SP-2012, 107-110.