The Rhythmic Constraint on Prosodic Boundaries in Mandarin Chinese Based on Corpora of Silent Reading and Speech Perception

Wei Lai, Jiahong Yuan, Ya Li, Xiaoying Xu, Mark Liberman


This study investigated the interaction between rhythmic and syntactic constraints on prosodic phrases in Mandarin Chinese. A set of 4000 sentences was annotated twice, once based on silent reading by 130 students assigned 500 sentences each, and a second time by speech perception based on a recording by one professional speaker. In both types of annotation, the general pattern of phrasing was consistent, with short “rhythmic phrases” behaving differently from longer “intonational phrases”. The probability of a rhythmic-phrase boundary between two words increased with the total length of those two words, and was also influenced by the nature of the syntactic boundary between them. The resulting rhythmic phrases were mainly 2–5 syllables long, independent of the length of the sentence. In contrast, the length of intonational phrases was not stable, and was heavily affected by sentence length. Intonational-phrase boundaries were also found to be affected by higher-level syntactic features, such as the depth of syntactic tree and the number of IP nodes. However, these syntactic influences on intonational phrases were weakened in long sentences (>20 syllable) and also in short sentences (<10 syllable), where the length effect played the main role.


DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2016-607

Cite as

Lai, W., Yuan, J., Li, Y., Xu, X., Liberman, M. (2016) The Rhythmic Constraint on Prosodic Boundaries in Mandarin Chinese Based on Corpora of Silent Reading and Speech Perception. Proc. Interspeech 2016, 87-91.

Bibtex
@inproceedings{Lai+2016,
author={Wei Lai and Jiahong Yuan and Ya Li and Xiaoying Xu and Mark Liberman},
title={The Rhythmic Constraint on Prosodic Boundaries in Mandarin Chinese Based on Corpora of Silent Reading and Speech Perception},
year=2016,
booktitle={Interspeech 2016},
doi={10.21437/Interspeech.2016-607},
url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/Interspeech.2016-607},
pages={87--91}
}