A Phonetic and Phonological Analysis of Dual and Multiple Focuses

Yuan Jia, Aijun Li, Ziyu Xiong, Phonetics Lab, Institute of Linguistics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

The present study mainly deals with the acoustic manifestation and phonological explanation of dual and multiple focuses in Standard Chinese (hereinafter SC). Acoustic experiment is employed to achieve the research goal through which to explore the relation between focus and prominence in SC. Results have shown that, under a double focus condition, there are two prominences corresponding with the focuses and realize similar acoustic manifestations. However, under a multiple focus condition, only the rightmost focused constituent can realize prominence in a sentence. Based on these evidences, the study proposes that the prominence pattern in SC can be accounted for by the distinction of nuclear accent and pre-nuclear accent as in English. Specifically, in SC, the nuclear prominence is characterized by obligatory and unique nature, while the pre-nuclear prominence is optional and secondary. Therefore, there is no restriction on the appearance of nuclear prominence, while the appearance of pre-nuclear prominence is constrained by the double focus condition.