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Online Processing of Speech Prosody in Mandarin

mandarinPhD student: Min Liu
Supervisors: Yiya Chen and Niels O. Schiller

In Mandarin, tone and intonation share the same acoustic correlate – F0. At the syllabic level, F0 is employed to indicate different lexical tones that differentiate lexical meanings. For instance, Tone2 is characterized as a rising F0 contour whereas Tone4 is represented as a falling F0 contour. At the sentential level, F0 is used to signal intonation types such as statement and question. Like many other languages, question intonation shows an upward trend in F0, in contrast to a downward trend in F0 for statement intonation in Mandarin.

Since both tone and intonation are realized in terms of F0, there might be a conflict between the direction of tone and that of the intonation in F0. In this study, we attempt to reveal the neuro-psychological mechanism of Mandarin speakers processing tone and intonation, to see if people can disentangle the information of tone and that of intonation. We would also like to investigate other factors that might be involved in speech prosody processing, such as, focus , semantics and so on.