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Academic Paper

Title: An Acoustic Study of Affricates in the Songyuan Dialect of Mandarin Chinese
Author: Chanelle Mays
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Ohio State University
Linguistic Field: Phonetics
Subject Language: Chinese, Mandarin
Abstract: This paper describes the acoustic properties that differentiate the place of articulation in the three unaspirated affricates of the Songyuan dialect of Mandarin Chinese: the alveolo-palatal unaspirated [tɕ], the alveolar unaspirated [ts], and the retroflex unaspirated [tʂ]. Affricates are interesting because they are late-acquired cross-linguistically by children. What is more, the corresponding Mandarin fricatives [ɕ], [s], and [ʂ] show a systematic gender effect, in that young women tend to produce [ɕ] as [sʲ]. Informal observation suggests that this "feminine accent" variant affects their productions of the affricates as well. Acoustic measures originally developed by Li (2008) for fricatives were adapted to examine the frication portion of affricates. These measures included F2 frequency at vowel onset and centroid (mean frequency within the spectrum), calculated over a 20 millisecond window extracted from the middle of the frication. Centroid and onset F2 together distinguished the three affricates robustly. Productions of [ts] had the highest centroid values, reflecting their front place of articulation. Women's productions of [tɕ] have centroid values nearly as high as those of [ts], reflecting the fronting behavior that is part of the feminine accent.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
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