[PS-1.50] Mandarin Chinese Tone 3 Sandhi as a prosodic cue in the lexical processing

Chen, T. , Hirose, Y. & Ito, T.

Department of Language and Information Sciences, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Tokyo

In Chinese, Tone 3 Sandhi (T3S: change of T3 into T2) occurs on a T3 syllable when followed by another T3 syllable. A noun can be segmentally ambiguous as to whether it is a head by itself or a modifier of a compound followed by a head noun. We investigated whether presence or absence of T3S helps listeners to predict the head/ compound-modifier status. Two visual-world paradigm experiments examined whether T3S is a sufficient prosodic cue to facilitate the prediction towards (i) morphological structure (single head vs. compound modifier, Experiment 1) and if so, (ii) lexical tone of the upcoming noun (Experiment 2). Experiment 1 revealed that T3S promotes prediction of the compound status: participants preferentially looked at the compound visual targets when hearing a lexically T3 noun with T3S applied (i.e. pronounced as T2), compared to when no T3S is applied. Experiment 2 further tested if listeners preferentially looked at visual objects associated with T3 head nouns compared to non-T3 nouns. We found no evidence for anticipation of specific tonal type of the upcoming head. The results together suggest that T3S promotes the prediction of the morphological structure but not the lexical tone of the upcoming head.