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Tone and intonation processing: From ambiguous acoustic signal to linguistic representation

On November 1st, Min Liu succesfully defended her doctoral thesis and graduated. The Leiden University Centre for Linguistics congratulates Min on this great result.

Min Liu
01 November 2018
Leiden University Repository


The most prominent prosodic feature of tonal languages such as Standard Chinese is their use of pitch to distinguish lexical meanings (i.e., tone). However, speech ambiguity arises in Standard Chinese because the same pitch contour can also cue another linguistic function (i.e., intonation) in the same linguistic system. As most Standard Chinese speakers also speak a local Chinese dialect, speech ambiguity can further arise when the same or similar pitch contours cue the same linguistic function (e.g., tone), but different categories of that function in two linguistic systems of a bi-dialectal speaker. This dissertation investigates how pitch is processed within a linguistic system (i.e., Standard Chinese) and across two linguistic systems (i.e., Standard Chinese and Xi’an Mandarin) when the same pitch contour cues different linguistic functions (i.e., tone and intonation) or different categories of the same linguistic function (i.e., tone).

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