International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages
With Emphasis on Tone Languages

Beijing, China
March 28-31, 2004

Tones and Intonation in Declarative and Interrogative Sentences in Mandarin

Xiao-Li Zeng, Philippe Martin, Georges Boulakia

UFRL Université Paris 7-Denis Diderot, France

This study investigates three modal variations in Mandarin Chinese: 1) declarative ("D"); 2) interrogative ended with the interrogative marker "ma" ("I-ma"), and 3) interrogative without "ma" (or "Rhetoric Question" - "RQ", demand of confirmation). The acoustic comparison of these variations shows precedence on the realization of modal intonation on any of the four tones in sentence-final position. The instrumental analysis reveals that: 1) interrogative intonation (with or without the interrogative marker "ma") has a higher sentence- final melodic curve than the declarative counterpart; 2) the duration of the last syllable in the interrogative is shorter than that in the declarative. These results prove that even with the presence of the interrogative marker "ma", the interrogative is characterized with a specific prosodic melodic pattern, different from the ones used in the other modality variations.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Zeng, Xiao-Li / Martin, Philippe / Boulakia, Georges (2004): "Tones and intonation in declarative and interrogative sentences in Mandarin", In TAL-2004, 235-238.