Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
Browse

File(s) stored somewhere else

Please note: Linked content is NOT stored on Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington and we can't guarantee its availability, quality, security or accept any liability.

Prosody or syntax? The perception of focus by Mandarin speakers

chapter
posted on 2023-11-15, 21:38 authored by Mengzhu Yan, Sasha CalhounSasha Calhoun, Paul WarrenPaul Warren
Information structure describes the way in which information is organized in a discourse to serve the purpose of communication. A core part of information structure is focus, whose main function is to indicate new information or the information that updates the common ground. In a question (e.g., 'What did the captain put on?'), the focus is the unknown information asked about by the wh-phrase. Prosody (prosodic prominence) and syntax (syntactic clefting) can be used to signal focus in Mandarin. However, the relative importance of these cues has not been established in speech perception. This study probes listeners' judgements on the appropriateness of an answer to a question in Mandarin. Results show that prosodic prominence appears to be more effective than syntactic clefting as a cue for listeners to perceive where the focus is. Syntax plays an inhibitory rather than facilitatory role. This research provides the first evidence of the interaction of syntax and prosody in the perception of focus in Mandarin, and contributes to a growing body of research showing cross-linguistic differences in the weighting of prosodic and syntactic cues in the perception of focus.

Funding

Searching for a Shared World: the Integration of Prosody and Word Ordering in Cross-Linguistic Speech Perception | Funder: ROYAL SOCIETY OF NEW ZEALAND | Grant ID: 15-VUW-015

History

Preferred citation

Yan, M., Calhoun, S. & Warren, P. (2020). Prosody or syntax? The perception of focus by Mandarin speakers. In Nobuaki Minematsu, Mariko Kondo, Takayuki Arai, Ryoko Hayashi (Ed.), Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody (2020-May, pp. 347-351). ISCA. https://doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-71

Book title

Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody

Publisher

ISCA

Pagination

347-351

Editors

Nobuaki Minematsu; Mariko Kondo; Takayuki Arai; Ryoko Hayashi

Volume

2020-May

ISSN

2333-2042

Usage metrics

    Chapters

    Categories

    No categories selected

    Exports

    RefWorks
    BibTeX
    Ref. manager
    Endnote
    DataCite
    NLM
    DC