Affordable Access

Publisher Website

Concept of tone in Mandarin revisited: A perceptual study on tonal coarticulation

Language Sciences
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0388-0001(91)90025-v
  • Linguistics
  • Musicology
  • Physics


Abstract J. M. Howie, 1974. “On the Domain of Tone in Mandarin,” Phonetica 30. 129–148. Has claimed that the basic contours of Mandarin tone are coextensive only with the syllabic vowel and any voiced segment that may follow it, any portion of fundamental frequency ( F 0) preceding them is merely an anticipatory adjustment of the voice. This is true insofar as tones are considered in isolated citation form. However, in connected speech, it has been found that Mandarin tones are perturbed due to tonal coarticulation, viz., a portion of F 0 of syllabic vowels is affected X.-N. S. Shen, 1990. “Tonal Coarticulartion in Mandarin,” Journal of Phonetics 18. 281–295. Because of the carryover effects of the preceding tone, the adjustment of the voice in a subsequent tone is not only anticipatory, it is also preservative. A perceptual experiment was conducted to examine whether carryover coarticulatory perturbations occurring at syllabic vowels in excised tones were perceptible. The results show that listeners identified above chance-level, the F 0 perturbations under carryover effects in excised tones and the perturbations at initial syllabic vowels are better identified. Therefore, the concept of tone in Mandarin is revised as follows: in connected speech, a portion of fundamental frequency at intertonemic onset is perturbed — this includes initial voiced consonants and vowels (syllabic and nonsyllabic are alike); the perturbations result from preservative as well as anticipatory adjustments of the voice. This study suggest also that, F 0 being an acoustic attribute in the signals and tone being a linguistic unit, their relation is a many-to-one relation. In acoustical study of tones in connected speech, tonal perturbations must be taken into consideration, when measuring F 0, to determine the phonetic tones; moreover, the acoustic properties of tones in isolated citation form are not appropriate for use as norms.

There are no comments yet on this publication. Be the first to share your thoughts.