Interactional and pragmatics-related prosodic patterns in Mandarin dialog

Author(s): Nigel Ward, Yuanchao Li, Tianyu Zhao and Tatsuya Kawahara


The roles of prosody vary from language to language. In European languages prosody is largely involved in pragmatics, but this may be less true for other languages, especially tone languages. As a case study this paper examines Mandarin. Using telephone dialog data and a semi-automatic bottom-up analysis method based on Principal Components Analysis, we identify a dozen prosodic patterns in Mandarin which appear to have pragmatic and/or interactional significance. Examination of the overall fraction of prosodic variation explained by different factors also suggests that Mandarin uses prosody heavily for pragmatic functions in dialog.


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