Prosodic focus marking in Bai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study investigates prosodic marking of focus in Bai, a
Sino-Tibetan language spoken in the Southwest of China, by
adopting a semi-spontaneous experimental approach. Our data
show that Bai speakers increase the duration of the focused
constituent and reduce the duration of the post-focus
constituent to encode focus. However, duration is not used in
Bai to distinguish focus types differing in size and
contrastivity. Further, pitch plays no role in signaling focus
and differentiating focus types. The results thus suggest that
Bai uses prosody to mark focus, but to a lesser extent,
compared to Mandarin Chinese, with which Bai has been in
close contact for centuries, and Cantonese, to which Bai is
similar in the tonal system, although Bai is similar to
Cantonese in its reliance on duration in prosodic focus
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)628-631
JournalSpeech prosody
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • focus
  • prosody
  • duration
  • pitch
  • Bai


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