Document Detail

Prosodic structure in language understanding: evidence from tone sandhi in Mandarin.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  2485849     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Two experiments show that prosodic information plays a crucial role in the processing of sentences of Standard Mandarin Chinese, where local lexical ambiguities may occur due to the operation of a tone sandhi rule. In Chinese, each word is associated with a tone; in this paper, the term "Mandarin tone sandhi" refers to a phonological rule that changes the first of two consecutive low tones (Tone 3) to a rising tone (Tone 2). As a result, a two-syllable sequence with a rising tone followed by a low tone is ambiguous. In Experiment 1, listeners identified lexical tones for ambiguous, unambiguous, and nonsense words in phrasal contexts where the tone sandhi rule might have applied. Comparable results in the lexical versus nonsense conditions indicate that judgments did not rely simply on lexically stored tonal information, but also made reference to the tonal context of the phrase. In Experiment 2, subjects chose the most likely written English translation for auditory sentences of Mandarin. Global prosodic information was manipulated to create different levels of "prosodic closeness" between two critical items in a tone sandhi environment, while the syntactic relation between these items was held constant. Results show that listeners relied on the prosodic structure of the phrases to determine whether or not the tone sandhi rule had applied, and consequently to identify individual lexical items. The evidence is taken to support the notion that prosodic structure influences auditory language comprehension processes.
S R Speer; C L Shih; M L Slowiaczek
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Language and speech     Volume:  32 ( Pt 4)     ISSN:  0023-8309     ISO Abbreviation:  Lang Speech     Publication Date:    1989 Oct-Dec
Date Detail:
Created Date:  1990-12-11     Completed Date:  1990-12-11     Revised Date:  2007-11-14    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  2985214R     Medline TA:  Lang Speech     Country:  ENGLAND    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  337-54     Citation Subset:  IM    
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MeSH Terms
Speech Perception*
Grant Support
HD01994/HD/NICHD NIH HHS; T3207035//PHS HHS; T3216745//PHS HHS

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