Durational and Pitch Marking of Rhetorical Wh-questions in Mandarin

Roger Yu-Hsiang Lo, Angelika Kiss


In a production experiment, we explore the prosody of different types of questions in Mandarin. In each trial, we manipulated the context to elicit a set of string-identical wh-questions with the following three readings: information-seeking questions (ISQs), positive rhetorical questions (RQ+s): Who wants to drink coffee? - (Of course) John, and negative rhetorical questions (RQ−s): Who wants to drink coffee? - Nobody. The results suggest that ISQs tend to have a shorter utterance duration and a longer, higher-pitched sentence-final particle (SFP), whereas RQ−s are more likely to have a longer utterance duration and a shorter, lower-pitched SFP, with RQ+s lying in between these two extremes. These trends are also found to mirror the extent of speaker commitment and addressee engagement across the three question types. Overall, our results show that the prosodic difference helps to differentiate between question types, though the mapping between acoustic properties and question types is language-specific.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-88

Cite as: Lo, R.Y., Kiss, A. (2020) Durational and Pitch Marking of Rhetorical Wh-questions in Mandarin. Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020, 429-433, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-88.


@inproceedings{Lo2020,
  author={Roger Yu-Hsiang Lo and Angelika Kiss},
  title={{Durational and Pitch Marking of Rhetorical Wh-questions in Mandarin}},
  year=2020,
  booktitle={Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020},
  pages={429--433},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-88},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-88}
}