The 4th International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages

Nijmegen, The Netherlands
May 13-16, 2014

Prosodie Focus Marking iu Child and Adult Mandarin Chinese

Anqi Yang (1), Aoju Chen (1,2)

(1) Utrecht Institute of Linguistics, Utrecht University, the Netherlands
(2) Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, the Netherlands

This study investigates how Mandarin Chinese speaking children and adults use prosody to mark focus in spontaneous speech. SVO sentences were elicited from 4- and 8-year-olds and adults in a game setting. Sentence-medial verbs were acoustically analysed for both duration and pitch range in different focus conditions. We have found that like the adults, the 8-year-olds used both duration and pitch range to distinguish focus from non-focus. The 4-year-olds used only duration to distinguish focus from non-focus, unlike the adults and 8-year-olds. None of the three groups of speakers distinguished contrastive focus from non-contrastive focus using pitch range or duration. Regarding the distinction between narrow focus from broad focus, the 4- and 8-year-olds used both pitch range and duration for this purpose, while the adults used only duration.

Index Terms: focus, tone, Mandarin Chinese; L1 acquisition

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Yang, Anqi / Chen, Aoju (2014): "Prosodie focus marking iu child and adult Mandarin Chinese", In TAL-2014, 54-58.