15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-15)

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

A Phonetic Study of the Neutral Tone in Beijing Mandarin

Wai-Sum Lee

University of Hong Kong, China

The study investigates the acoustical characteristics, F0, duration, and intensity, of the neutral tone in Beijing Mandarin. The neutral tone which is considered as the 5th tone besides the other 4 citation tones [55, 35, 214, 51] usually occurs on the non-initial component syllable of a compound. Results of the analysis show that the F0 shape of the neutral tone is either level or falling and the F0 level of the neutral tone varies to a greater extent, both depending on the type or the F0 of the preceding citation tone. As for duration, on the bisyllabic words, the neutral tone is always shorter than the preceding citation tone, but on the trisyllabic words, the neutral tone may be similar to or longer than the neighboring citation tones. For both the bisyllabic and trisyllabic words, the intensity level of the neutral tone may not necessarily be lower than those of the citation tones.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Lee, Wai-Sum (2003): "A phonetic study of the neutral tone in Beijing Mandarin", In ICPhS-15, 1121-1124.