Sentence prosody and Wh-indeterminates in Taiwan Mandarin

Yu Yin Hsu, Anqi Xu

Research output: Journal article publicationConference articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


We report results of a speech production experiment about the intonation of three sentence types in Taiwan Mandarin, and discuss our results with implications for focus acoustics, and semantic-syntactic theories of sentence final particles and whindeterminates. Wh-indeterminates refer to wh-phrases that are ambiguous between interrogative and indefinite readings. In Mandarin, different interpretations of wh-indeterminates are not morphologically marked, but can be disambiguated in specific sentence contexts marked by sentence final particles. In this study, we systematically examined the intonation of whquestions and yes/no questions by using declarative sentences as the baseline. The results show that both wh- and yes/no questions exhibit F0 prominence, and lengthening effects on regions containing sentence-final particles and wh-phrases, but the effects were stronger in wh-questions. Examining the duration and F0 range, we found that wh-phrases and sentence final particles together formed specific acoustic patterns to distinguish questions from declarative sentences. The findings suggest that the prosodic organization interacts with other internal structural organization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3950-3954
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association, INTERSPEECH
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sept 2019
Event20th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association: Crossroads of Speech and Language, INTERSPEECH 2019 - Graz, Austria
Duration: 15 Sept 201919 Sept 2019


  • Focus prosody
  • Sentence final particle
  • Sentence prosody
  • Taiwan Mandarin
  • Wh-indeterminate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Signal Processing
  • Software
  • Modelling and Simulation


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