Phonetic realizations of post-nuclear accent under dual-focus conditions in Standard Chinese

Author(s): Yi Yuan, Aijun Li, Yuan Jia, Jianhua Hu and Balázs Surány


Previous studies indicated that the rightmost unit is the default position for bearing nuclear accent in multiple-focus condition in Standard Chinese. The present research investigated the accent realization for dual-focus sentences which has a leftmost nuclear accent. The syntactic form of [Subject Verb (Modifier1) Object1 (Modifier2) Object2] was adopted. A corrective focus was always assigned to left-headed Subject while another focus was assigned to the right constituents in various sentence length, and the leftmost Subject was always realized as the nuclear accent. Both perceptual and phonetic analysis were induced to explore the accent realization. We found that i) When nuclear accents are placed on the left-head, multiple foci could be realized by post-nuclear accents. ii) Both F0 expansion and PFC are related cues of nuclear accent, but the expansion amplitude dependeds on sentence length, longer the sentence structure, smaller the expansion. For non- final post-nuclear accent, F0 is not a reliable cue but PFC always has effect. iii) In this particular syntactic structure, there is an obvious prosodic boundary after Object1, which divides this structure into two prosodic phrases with Subject attracting the accent of intonation phrase. vi) Results of perceptual experiment indicate that the SC exists hierarchical-multiple accents.