Influences of Tone on Vowel Articulation in Mandarin Chinese Purpose Models of speech production often abstract away from shared physiology in pitch control and lingual articulation, positing independent control of tone and vowel units. We assess the validity of this assumption in Mandarin Chinese by evaluating the stability of lingual articulation for vowels across variation in tone. ... Supplement Article
Supplement Article  |   December 01, 2016
Influences of Tone on Vowel Articulation in Mandarin Chinese
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Jason A. Shaw
    University of Western Sydney, Australia
  • Wei-rong Chen
    National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu City, Taiwan
  • Michael I. Proctor
    Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
  • Donald Derrick
    University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Jason A. Shaw: J.Shaw@uws.edu.au
  • Editor: Jody Kreiman
    Editor: Jody Kreiman×
  • Associate Editor: Susanne Fuchs
    Associate Editor: Susanne Fuchs×
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Supplement: Select Papers From the 10th International Seminar on Speech Production
Supplement Article   |   December 01, 2016
Influences of Tone on Vowel Articulation in Mandarin Chinese
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2016, Vol. 59, S1566-S1574. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-S-15-0031
History: Received January 28, 2015 , Revised August 26, 2015 , Accepted October 7, 2015
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2016, Vol. 59, S1566-S1574. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-S-15-0031
History: Received January 28, 2015; Revised August 26, 2015; Accepted October 7, 2015

Purpose Models of speech production often abstract away from shared physiology in pitch control and lingual articulation, positing independent control of tone and vowel units. We assess the validity of this assumption in Mandarin Chinese by evaluating the stability of lingual articulation for vowels across variation in tone.

Method Electromagnetic articulography was used to track flesh points on the tongue (tip, body, dorsum), lips, and jaw while native Mandarin speakers (n = 6) produced 3 vowels, /p a /, /p i /, /p u /, combined with 4 Mandarin tones: T1 “high,” T2 “rising,” T3 “low,” and T4 “falling.”

Results Consistent with physiological expectations, tones that begin low, T2 and T3, conditioned a lower position of the tongue body for the vowel /a/. For the vowel /i/, we found the opposite effect, whereby tones that begin low, T2 and T3, conditioned a higher tongue body position.

Conclusions The physiology of pitch control exerts systematic variation on the lingual articulation of /a/ across tones. The effects of tone on /i/ articulation are in the opposite direction predicted by physiological considerations. Physiologically arbitrary variation of the type observed for /i/ challenges the assumption that phonetic patterns can be determined by independent control of tone (source) and vowel (filter) production units.

Acknowledgments
Research was funded by an internal research grant from the MARCS Institute to Jason A. Shaw, Michael Tyler, Michael Proctor, Donald Derrick, and Chong Han. We would like to thank our six Mandarin participants as well as Chong Han, Jia Ying, and Yuan Ma for help recruiting them. We are grateful for preliminary discussions of the data with Allard Jongman, Joan Sereno, San Duanmu, Cathi Best, and Denis Burnham and for feedback received at the 10th International Seminar on Speech Production. The comments of editor Jody Kreiman, associate editor Susanne Fuchs, and two anonymous reviewers greatly improved the manuscript.
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