Wh-indeterminates and Prosody in Hong Kong Cantonese

Yu-yin Hsu, Anqi Xu

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingConference article published in proceeding or bookAcademic researchpeer-review


We report results of a speech production experiment about the prosody of wh-indeterminates and three types of sentences in Hong Kong Cantonese, and discuss our results in relation to the characteristics of focus prosody and the prosodic-syntactic effects on sentence final particles (SFPs). Wh-indeterminates refer to wh-phrases that are ambiguous between interrogative and indefinite readings. Chinese languages do not morphologically differentiate the meanings of whindeterminates, but they can be differentiated in some types of sentences marked by SFPs. In this study, we used statements as the baseline to systematically study the sentential prosody of wh- and yes/no questions as well as the constituent prosody expressed by wh-indeterminates therein. The results show that wh- and yes/no questions were distinguished from statements by the prosody of SFPs, and that the two readings of whindeterminates were distinguished in the regions of whphrases. We also found that wh-phrases and SFPs together formed a specific duration pattern that distinguishes questions from statements. Our results suggest that the speech prosodic organization considers and interacts with syntax-semantics.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • wh-indeterminates
  • sentence final particles
  • focus prosody
  • syntax
  • Cantonese


Dive into the research topics of 'Wh-indeterminates and Prosody in Hong Kong Cantonese'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this