10th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Brighton, United Kingdom
September 6-10, 2009

Closely Related Languages, Different Ways of Realizing Focus

Szu-wei Chen (1), Bei Wang (2), Yi Xu (3)

(1) National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan
(2) Minzu University of China, China
(3) University College London, UK

We investigated how focus was prosodically realized in Taiwanese, Taiwan Mandarin and Beijing Mandarin by monolingual and bilingual speakers. Acoustic analyses showed that all speakers raised pitch and intensity of focused words, but only Beijing Mandarin speakers lowered pitch and intensity of post-focus words. Crossgroup differences in duration were mixed. When listening to stimuli from their own language groups, subjects from Beijing had over 80% focus recognition rate, while those from Taiwan had less than 70% recognition rate. This difference is mainly due to presence/absence of post-focus compression. These findings have implications for prosodic typology, language contact and bilingualism.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Chen, Szu-wei / Wang, Bei / Xu, Yi (2009): "Closely related languages, different ways of realizing focus", In INTERSPEECH-2009, 1007-1010.