Phonetic enhancement of Mandarin vowels and tones

infant-directed speech and Lombard speech

Ping Tang*, Nan Xu Rattanasone, Ivan Yuen, Katherine Demuth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)
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Speech units are reported to be hyperarticulated in both infant-directed speech (IDS) and Lombard speech. Since these two registers have typically been studied separately, it is unclear if the same speech units are hyperarticulated in the same manner between these registers. The aim of the present study is to compare the effect of register on vowel and tone modification in the tonal language Mandarin Chinese. Vowel and tone productions were produced by 15 Mandarin-speaking mothers during interactions with their 12-month-old infants during a play session (IDS), in conversation with a Mandarin-speaking adult in a 70 dBA eight-talker babble noise environment (Lombard speech), and in a quiet environment (adult-directed speech). Vowel space expansion was observed in IDS and Lombard speech, however, the patterns of vowel-shift were different between the two registers. IDS displayed tone space expansion only in the utterance-final position, whereas there was no tone space expansion in Lombard speech. The overall pitch increased for all tones in both registers. The tone-bearing vowel duration also increased in both registers, but only in utterance-final position. The difference in speech modifications between these two registers is discussed in light of speakers' different communicative needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-503
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


Bibliographical note

Copyright 2017 Acoustical Society of America. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the Acoustical Society of America. The following article appeared in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 142(2), pp. 493-503 and may be found at

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