The Effect of Prosodic Prominence on the Realizations of Voiceless Dental and Retroflex Sibilants in Taiwan Mandarin Spontaneous Speech

Yu-Ying Chuang, Graduate Institute of Linguistics, National Taiwan University
Janice Fon, Graduate Institute of Linguistics, National Taiwan University

This study investigated how voiceless dental and retroflex sibilants were realized in response to prosodic prominence in Taiwan Mandarin. It has been indicated that retroflex sibilants in Taiwan Mandarin were replaced with their dental counterparts due to the lack of retroflex phonemes in Min. The spontaneous speech of eight Mandarin-Min bilinguals was analyzed. Results showed that whether sibilants were merged or distinguished was highly dependent on gender and region, both of which are factors corresponding to the frequency of using Min. Moreover, the strengthening effect was found to be achieved by various strategies. In general, speakers who showed sibilant distinction enlarged or maintained the contrast in the prominent condition. As for those who merged the two sibilants, dental sibilants were advanced in place of articulation for signaling prominence.