A Corpus Study of the Prosody of Polysyllabic Words in Mandarin Chinese

Catherine Lai, University of Pennsylvania
Yanyan Sui, University of Pennsylvania
Jiahong Yuan, University of Pennsylvania

This paper presents a corpus study of polysyllabic words in Standard Mandarin Chinese. In particular, this study investigates their prosodic features with respect to the notions of prosodic strength and stress. We find a robust strong-weak alternation with respect to F0, but different patterns for duration. In disyllabic words the first syllable tends be slightly longer than the second. However, for three and four syllable words the last syllable is the longest, followed by the first. These patterns suggest that F0 is a reliable phonetic indicator of metrical structure in Mandarin Chinese, rather than duration.