Volume 6, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2213-8706
  • E-ISSN: 2213-8714



Mandarin -words such as are -indeterminates, which can have interrogative interpretations (‘what’) or non-interrogative interpretations (i.e., ‘something’), depending on the context and licensors. For example, when (‘a little’) appears right in front of a -word, the string can have either a -question or a declarative interpretation (henceforth, -declarative). Yang (2018) carried out a production study and the results showed that -questions and -declaratives have different prosodic properties. To investigate whether and when listeners make use of prosody to anticipate the clause type (i.e., question vs. declarative), we conducted a sentence perception study and an audio-gating experiment. Results of the perception study and the gating experiment show that (1) Participants can make use of prosody to differentiate the two clause types; (2) Starting from the onset of the first word of the target sentence (-question/-declarative), participants already demonstrate a preference for the clause type that was intended by the speaker. The current study also sheds light on the clausal typing mechanism in Mandarin (e.g., how to mark a clause as a -question) by providing evidence of the role of prosody in marking clause types in Mandarin.


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