The 4th International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages

Nijmegen, The Netherlands
May 13-16, 2014

An Acoustic Analysis of Mandarin Tone 3 Sandhi Elicited from an Implicit Priming Experiment

Chierh Cheng (1), Jenn-Yeu Chen (1), Yi Xu (2)

(1) Department of Chinese as a Second Language, National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan
(2) Department of Speech, Hearing and Phonetic Sciences, University College London, U.K.

This study analyses acoustic data elicited from an implicit priming experiment on tone 3 sandhi in Mandarin Chinese (a follow-up to Chen and Chen [1]) with the aim of examining how the tonal contours of lexical T2 and sandhi T3 are realised in a set that shared the initial parts of the word (i.e. the homogeneous condition, e.g. li3pin3, li3xiang3, li2dao3, li2guo3) and in a set that did not share the initial parts of the word (i.e. the heterogeneous condition, e.g. li3pin3, yan3jiang3 , yu2gang3, wei2xian3), respectively. F0 contours and their instantaneous velocity profiles values are used in a functional t-test which allows comparing the mean of two groups of contours along the time domain. We find that in the homogeneous condition, T2 and sandhi T3 are very similar to each other. However, in the heterogeneous condition, the amplitude and speed of the initial falling movements differ, and a time lag in directional change is present between T2 and sandhi T3. This finding suggests that the neutralisation of sandhi T3 and T2 is less complete in the heterogeneous condition than in the homogeneous condition. Additionally, compared to the heterogeneous condition, the longer duration of target syllables found in the homogeneous condition could point to an intricate online articulatory re-adjustment of tonal targets during tonal alternation.


  1. Chen, J.-Y., and Chen, T.-M., “Mechanism and locus of Tone 3 sandhi during Mandarin Chinese spoken word production,” Journal of Chinese Linguist., accepted in 2013.

Index Terms: tone sandhi, Mandarin Chinese, implicit priming, functional data analysis

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Cheng, Chierh / Chen, Jenn-Yeu / Xu, Yi (2014): "An acoustic analysis of Mandarin tone 3 sandhi elicited from an implicit priming experiment", In TAL-2014, 36-40.