Form and Function of Connectives in Chinese Conversational Speech


  • Nien-Heng Wu
  • Shu-Chuan Tseng Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica



Connectives convey discourse functions that provide textual and pragmatic information in speech communication on top of canonical, sentential use. This paper proposes an applicable scheme with illustrative examples for distinguishing Sentential, Conclusion, Disfluency, Elaboration, and Resumption uses of Mandarin connectives, including conjunctions and adverbs. Quantitative results of our annotation works are presented to gain an overview of connectives in a Mandarin conversational speech corpus. A fine-grained taxonomy is also discussed, but it requires more empirical data to approve the applicability. By conducting a multinomial logistic regression model, we illustrate that connectives exhibit consistent patterns in positional, phonetic, and contextual features oriented to the associated discourse functions. Our results confirm that the position of Conclusion and Resumption connectives orient more to positions in semantically, rather than prosodically, determined units. We also found that connectives used for all four discourse functions tend to have a higher initial F0 value than those of sentential use. Resumption and Disfluency uses are expected to have the largest increase in initial F0 value, followed by Conclusion and Elaboration uses. Durational cues of the preceding context enable distinguishing Sentential use from discourse uses of Conclusion, Elaboration, and Resumption of connectives.