Yuka Tatsumi
October 13, 2023
9:00 am

Yuka Tatsumi

"Strategies for Resolving Sandhi-Induced Tonal  Ambiguity in Interaction"

Yuka Tatsumi
Lab Manager, Penn State
Center for Language Science

Friday, October 13   9:00–10:30 a.m. EDT
Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library


In connected speech, coarticulation can create ambiguities. For instance, in the case of Mandarin third-tone (T3) sandhi, the low-dipping T3 undergoes an alteration when followed by another T3, resulting in a tone that sounds like the rising tone (T2). This process has the potential to create ambiguities in Mandarin speech. Our Surnames with Friends project explored whether and how interlocutors in an interactive task
overcome ambiguities related to T3 sandhi. Ten pairs of Chinese participants saw displays with two Chinese phrases consisting of a surname and a title that became homophonous in some conditions due to sandhi. One participant read the phrase and the other selected it from their display. Pairs deployed different acoustic strategies to overcome sandhi-induced ambiguity, including exaggerating F0 rise or duration. Although many speakers can flexibly adapt to sandhi-induced ambiguity, their strategies did not necessarily align with listener expectations. Future directions on the data analysis of other sections of this project will also be discussed.