Prosodic Focus in Hong Kong Cantonese without Post-focus Compression

Wing Li Wu, Yi Xu, Department of Speech, Hearing and Phonetic Sciences, University College London, UK

A recent study reported that post-focus compression (PFC) previously found in Beijing Mandarin is absent in two related languages, Taiwanese and Taiwan Mandarin, and that PFC is beneficial to focus recognition. This paper presents the results of acoustic and perception experiments for Hong Kong Cantonese, another Chinese dialect, which show that PFC does not occur in Hong Kong Cantonese, making it similar to Taiwanese and Taiwan Mandarin. Duration and intensity are found to be the two main acoustic correlates of prosodic focus in Hong Kong Cantonese, with pitch excursion size significant only in the dynamic tones. Focus recognition rate in Hong Kong Cantonese is high compared to the three languages above, and this suggests that other factors which were not examined, including the effect of prosodic structure on initial consonants, may also be important for the realization and recognition of prosodic focus.