10th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Brighton, United Kingdom
September 6-10, 2009

Structural Analysis of Dialects, Sub-Dialects and Sub-Sub-Dialects of Chinese

Xuebin Ma (1), Akira Nemoto (2), Nobuaki Minematsu (1), Yu Qiao (1), Keikichi Hirose (1)

(1) University of Tokyo, Japan
(2) Nankai University, China

In China, there are hundred kinds of dialects. By traditional dialectology, they are classified into seven big dialect regions and most of them also have many sub-dialects and sub-sub-dialects. As they are different in various linguistic aspects, people from different dialect regions often cannot communicate orally. But for the sub-dialects of one dialect region, although they are sometimes still mutually unintelligible, more common features are shared. In this paper, a dialect pronunciation structure, which has been used successfully in dialect-based speaker classification in our previous work [1], is examined for the task of speaker classification and distance measurement among cities based on sub-dialects of Mandarin. Using the finals of the dialectal utterances of a specific list of written characters, a dialect pronunciation structure is built for every speaker in a data set and these speakers are classified based on the distances among their structures. Then, the results of classifying 16 Mandarin speakers based on their sub-dialects show that they are linguistically classified with little influence of their age and gender. Finally, distances among sub-sub-dialects are similarly calculated and evaluated. All the results show high validity and accordance to linguistic studies.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Ma, Xuebin / Nemoto, Akira / Minematsu, Nobuaki / Qiao, Yu / Hirose, Keikichi (2009): "Structural analysis of dialects, sub-dialects and sub-sub-dialects of Chinese", In INTERSPEECH-2009, 2219-2222.