Effect of intonation on Cantonese lexical tones
Ma, Joan K-Y
Whitehill, Tara L.
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Ma, J., Ciocca, V. & Whitehill, T. (2006) Effect of intonation on Cantonese lexical tones, Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, vol. 120, , pp. 3978-3987,
In tonal languages, there are potential conflicts between the F0-based changes due to the coexistence of intonation and lexical tones. In the present study, the interaction of tone and intonation in Cantonese was examined using acoustic and perceptual analyses. The acoustic patterns of tones at the initial, medial, and final positions of questions and statements were measured. Results showed that intonation affects both the F0 level and contour, while the duration of the six tones varied as a function of positions within intonation contexts. All six tones at the final position of questions showed rising F0 contour, regardless of their canonical form. Listeners were overall more accurate in the identification of tones presented within the original carrier than of the same tones in isolation. However, a large proportion of tones 33, 21, 23, and 22 at the final position of questions were misperceived as tone 25 both within the original carrier and as isolated words. These results suggest that although the intonation context provided cues for correct tone identification, the intonation-induced changes in F0 contour cannot always be perceptually compensated for, resulting in some erroneous perception of the identity of Cantonese tone.