Phonetic Realisation of Narrow Focus in Wu-Mandarin Bilinguals

Wenxi Fei, Mingyu Weng, Albert Lee

Many languages have been classified in terms of whether post-focus compression of fo range (PFC) is used to mark narrow focus or not. While the previous findings may seem to suggest that bilinguals’ language dominance could override the contact effect, it is still unclear how language dominance alone affects PFC. Thus, this study tested Suzhou Wu-Mandarin bilinguals (Wu-dominant vs. Mandarin-dominant), who spoke two +PFC languages on a daily basis. We recruited six female Wu-Mandarin bilinguals, four of which self-identified as Mandarin-dominant while two others Suzhou Wu-dominant. Participants were instructed to read aloud questions and corresponding answers in pairs in Suzhou Wu. For narrow focus conditions, the leading question contained one piece of wrong information, which would then elicit contrastive focus in the answer sentence (Initial Focus, Medial Focus, Final Focus). The data from four Mandarin-dominant speakers suggested that PFC was almost lost while the data of two Wu-dominant speakers showed clear PFC in Suzhou Wu speech, no matter which word was under focus. These findings are taken to indicate that bilinguals’ language dominance can influence the realisation of PFC in their speech.

 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-51

Cite as: Fei, W., Weng, M., Lee, A. (2020) Phonetic Realisation of Narrow Focus in Wu-Mandarin Bilinguals. Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020, 250-254, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-51.

  author={Wenxi Fei and Mingyu Weng and Albert Lee},
  title={{Phonetic Realisation of Narrow Focus in Wu-Mandarin Bilinguals}},
  booktitle={Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020},