14th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-14)

San Francisco, CA, USA
August 1-7, 1999


The Effect of Downdrift in the Production and Perception of Cantonese Level Tones

Patrick C. M. Wong

University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, USA

This study investigates downdrift in Cantonese. Analysis of Cantonese sentences spoken by seven speakers found that downdrift exists in Cantonese production. In a subsequence perception experiment, the same sentences were resynthesized so that the context was divided into two halves and their pitch was raised or lowered independently while the pitch of the target remained constant. Listeners identify the pitch of the target syllable based on the latter half of the context, i.e. a recency effect. Furthermore, when the pitch pattern of the initial half of the context was lower than the latter half (i.e. a violation of downdrift), listeners were less likely to make tonal judgement based on the latter half. These results are explained by listeners' expectation for downdrift when perceiving tones.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Wong, Patrick C. M. (1999): "The effect of downdrift in the production and perception of Cantonese level tones", In ICPhS-14, 2395-2398.