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Prosodic focus marking in child and adult Mandarin Chinese

Yang, A., & Chen, A. (2014). Prosodic focus marking in child and adult Mandarin Chinese. In C. Gussenhoven, Y. Chen, & D. Dediu (Eds.), Proceedings of the 4th International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Language (pp. 54-58).
This study investigates how Mandarin Chinese speaking children and adults use prosody to mark focus in spontaneous speech. SVO sentences were elicited from 4- and 8-year-olds and adults in a game setting. Sentence-medial verbs were acoustically analysed for both duration and pitch range in different focus conditions. We have found that like the adults, the 8-year-olds used both duration and pitch range to distinguish focus from non-focus. The 4-year-olds used only duration to distinguish focus from non-focus, unlike the adults and 8-year-olds. None of the three groups of speakers distinguished contrastive focus from non-contrastive focus using pitch range or duration. Regarding the distinction between narrow focus from broad focus, the 4- and 8-year-olds used both pitch range and duration for this purpose, while the adults used only duration
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