LSASL 49: Intonation in Cantonese

Artikel-Nr.: ISBN 9783895869860
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Intonation in Cantonese

Choi-Yeung-Chang Flynn
University of Hong Kong

This study develops a system for describing intonation in Cantonese, a language having six phonological tones employing both pitch and slope. It analyses the utterance intonation contour into major intonation groups, intonation groups and feet. It defines what criteria those units meet and how they relate to each other.

The intonation contours, constructed with a string of lexical tones, are described in terms of prosodic units which separate themselves in terms of pitch height and pitch span. The demarcation of the units is an innovation of this work. The different F0 values of identical phonological tones in an utterance are found to be in gradual descent if they are within an intonation group, and an intonation group is depicted more clearly when the two fitted lines which cover the top and the bottom are parallel and declined. A major intonation group is the largest prosodic unit in utterances. It is decided by a larger size of resetting of pitch span. An intonation group and a major intonation group each represent a unit of information which is semantically and syntactically coherent. The most prominent syllable in an intonation group is the tonic.

An acoustic analysis of all possible combinations of the lexical tones of disyllabic and trisyllabic tonal sequences shows that tonal coarticulation is an important factor in modifying the F0 contours. The modification can affect both the pitch height and the slope of the F0 contours, and is also realised in both anticipatory and carryover effects. Prominence is examined, both at the level of words and of utterances, and a description of its prosodic parameters is developed with supporting evidence from the discussion of tonics.

ISBN 9783895869860. LINCOM Studies in Asian Linguistics 49. 150pp. 2003.

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