Interaction of prosody and syntax-semantics in Mandarin wh-indeterminates

Yu-yin Hsu (Corresponding Author), Anqi Xu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


This paper reports on two speech-production experiments focused on Putonghua and Taiwan Mandarin sentence-final particles and wh-phrases that have interrogative or indefinite readings in three contexts: yes/no questions, wh-questions, and statements. Sentence-final particles were found to influence focus-prosody through right-edge shortening and lowering of F0 and intensity of wh-phrases, thus distinguishing wh-interrogatives from indefinites and questions from statements. Speakers adopt multidimensional acoustic strategies to shape intonation: while maintaining the lexical tones, prosody interacts with the organization imposed by syntax, semantics, and focus. The two varieties of Mandarin differ in the extent to which their prosodic differences represent such syntactic-semantic information.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)EL119-EL124
JournalThe Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics

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