8th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Antwerp, Belgium
August 27-31, 2007

The Neutral Tone in Question Intonation in Mandarin

Fang Liu (1), Yi Xu (2)

(1) University of Chicago, USA
(2) University College London, UK

This study investigates how the neutral tone, when preceded by different full tones under different focus conditions, behaves in question intonation in Mandarin. Results indicate that 1) the preceding full/neutral tone largely determines the local F0 trajectory of the neutral tone, but the latter also gradually converges over the course of several neutral tone syllables, 2) post-focus lowering, which is caused by the effect of focus, occurs in both neutral-tone-ending and High-tone-ending sentences, with the interrogative intonation in questions realized as an upward shift starting from the focused word, and 3) sentence-final neutral tone has a falling contour even in questions, thus contrasting with sentence-final High tone, which has a rising contour in questions.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Liu, Fang / Xu, Yi (2007): "The neutral tone in question intonation in Mandarin", In INTERSPEECH-2007, 630-633.