Colorado Research in Linguistics
Colorado Research in Linguistics -- ISSN 1937-7029

Vol 23.1 2012

Sound Patterns in Mandarin Recycling Repair

Helen Kai-yun Chen 

PhD Thesis
Dr. Barbara Fox, advisor

The objective of the present research is to investigate the ways in which Mandarin interlocutors utilize prosodic resources as part of the means to achieve interactional actions and sequential-organization in natural conversation. By approaches of interactional prosody and conversational phonetics toward the analysis of sound realization of Mandarin repair in natural conversation, this study provides a preliminary exploration on how the combination of detailed prosodic features forms various sound patterns in reflecting the interactional aspect and sequential organization of Mandarin conversation.

The current study examines the particular example of recycling repair, defined as ďa repeat of part of a conversational turn,Ē among all methods used in accomplishing Mandarin same-turn self-repair. The data corpus consists of 260 cases of recycling repair culled from a collection of both video- and audio-taped naturally occurring Mandarin conversation. For each recycling, acoustic measurements, including duration, pitch, silence, cut-off and lengthening were carried out by using Praat. Additional judgments would be made based on the analystís impressionistic interpretation of these acoustic cues. After taking measurements, the results were compared and the sound patterns that emerged from recyclings of the same sound manifestation were identified.

By a qualitative case-study methodology, this thesis reports 6 sound patterns and 3 sub-patterns based on 112 cases of Mandarin recyclings selected. The findings from the current research highlight the interaction-specific, sequence-specific, and function-specific examples of recyclings in relation to the use of the 6 main prosodic patterns. 3 sub-patterns that share some similarity with 2 of the 6 sound patterns in terms of interactional function were further identified. The result from the current exploratory work on the correlation between sound patterns in Mandarin recyclings and interaction contributes significantly to an interdisciplinary study that focuses on broadening the interactional linguistic theory by paying close attention to the sound patterns in natural conversation.

Helen Kai-yun Chen can be reached at: Kaiyun.Chen@Colorado.EDU.

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