The role of metrical structure in signaling focus: An acoustic study of focus and prosody in Shanghai Chinese

Author(s): Lei Sun


This paper reports the results of an experiment designed to investigate the relation of focus and prosody in Shanghai Chinese. The experiment examined durational adjustment and f0 modification of the target syllables at different levels of prosodic structure under different types of focus. The results confirm that post-focus pitch register lowering in Shanghai Chinese is a phrasal marker and show that the tone sandhi pattern observed in verb phrases is in fact a tonal reduction process due to the lack of focus-induced prominence. The study also finds that F0 range of the tones carried by post- focus constituents do not always compress as reported in the literature, raising doubts on the view that focus is manipulated directly by prosodic cues.