Rhythmical Features of Spontaneous Spoken Narrative in Mandarin Chinese





Mandarin Chinese, speech rhythm, Oldřich Švarný, spontaneous speech, personal narrative


Every oral communication is shaped by a series of closely linked factors and rhythm is one of them. The rhythmical flow in colloquial Mandarin Chinese was thoroughly described by the Czech phonetician Oldřich Švarný, who invented a unique notation system dedicated to facilitating the teaching of Chinese as a foreign language. His prosodic transcription parses speech into a two-level arrangement of prosodic units. It displays the speech rhythm as an alternation of rhythmically significant and insignificant syllables of unequal tone prominence. The paper contributes to Švarný’s findings by shifting the attention from prefabricated teaching materials to an example of unrehearsed dynamic speech. Specifically, it attempts to outline the basic rhythmical features of personal narrative and confront them with the current understanding of speech rhythm in colloquial Chinese. It also demonstrates how Švarný’s methodological framework can be exploited to investigate different types of spoken discourse.


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How to Cite

Slaměníková, T., & Uher, D. (2024). Rhythmical Features of Spontaneous Spoken Narrative in Mandarin Chinese. Acta Linguistica Asiatica, 14(1), 9–35. https://doi.org/10.4312/ala.14.1.9-35



Research articles