A study of sentence stress production in mandarin speakers of American English

Yang Chen, Michael P. Robb, Harvey R. Gilbert, Jay W. Lerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Acoustic characteristics of American English sentence stress produced by native Mandarin speakers are reported. Fundamental frequency (F0), vowel duration, and vowel intensity in the sentence-level stress produced by 40 Mandarin speakers were compared to those of 40 American English speakers. Results obtained from two methods of stress calculation indicated that Mandarin speakers of American English are able to differentiate stressed and unstressed words according to features of F0, duration, and intensity. Although the group of Mandarin speakers were able to signal stress in their sentence productions, the acoustic characteristics of stress were not identical to the American speakers. Mandarin speakers were found to produce stressed words with a significantly higher FO and shorter duration compared to the American speakers. The groups also differed in production of unstressed words with Mandarin speakers using a higher FO and greater intensity compared to American speakers. Although the acoustic differences observed may reflect an interference of L1 Mandarin in the production of L2 American English, the outcome of this study suggests no critical divergence between these speakers in the way they implement American English sentence stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1681-1690
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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