Contrastive Focus in Mandarin Chinese

Markus Greif, University of Potsdam

The present study investigates the prosodic realization of two types of contrastive (i.e., corrective) foci relative to wh-focus in Mandarin Chinese: the semantic alternative-based and a discourse-pragmatic type of contrastive focus according to which the contrast is primarily yielded by assumptions on speaker-hearer expectations on the Common Ground. It can be shown that the pragmatically oriented corrective focus is marked more distinctively in terms of prosody than is the alternative-based. Based on this empirical evidence, it is suggested to re-evaluate the current definition of contrast which mainly refers to semantic alternatives and to integrate the findings into existing models on the implementation of lexical tones.