Wh-indeterminates and Prosody in Hong Kong Cantonese

Yu-Yin Hsu, Anqi Xu

We report results of a speech production experiment about the prosody of wh-indeterminates and three types of sentences in Hong Kong Cantonese, and discuss our results in relation to the characteristics of focus prosody and the prosodic-syntactic effects on sentence final particles (SFPs). Wh-indeterminates refer to wh-phrases that are ambiguous between interrogative and indefinite readings. Chinese languages do not morphologically differentiate the meanings of whindeterminates, but they can be differentiated in some types of sentences marked by SFPs. In this study, we used statements as the baseline to systematically study the sentential prosody of wh- and yes/no questions as well as the constituent prosody expressed by wh-indeterminates therein. The results show that wh- and yes/no questions were distinguished from statements by the prosody of SFPs, and that the two readings of whindeterminates were distinguished in the regions of whphrases. We also found that wh-phrases and SFPs together formed a specific duration pattern that distinguishes questions from statements. Our results suggest that the speech prosodic organization considers and interacts with syntax-semantics.

 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-77

Cite as: Hsu, Y., Xu, A. (2020) Wh-indeterminates and Prosody in Hong Kong Cantonese. Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020, 376-380, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-77.

  author={Yu-Yin Hsu and Anqi Xu},
  title={{Wh-indeterminates and Prosody in Hong Kong Cantonese}},
  booktitle={Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020},