Tone Pair Similarity and the Perception of Mandarin Tones by Mandarin and English Listeners

Wenyi Ling, Amy Schafer


Previous work [1]–[5] has provided evidence that the perception of lexical tones by native speakers of Mandarin can be more categorical than that of naïve foreign listeners, for the tone pairings T1-T2, T2-T4, T1-T4 and T3-T4. The present study extended this work by testing Mandarin and naïve English listeners’ perception of all six possible pairwise combinations of the four Mandarin tones, using identification and AXB discrimination tasks. The results revealed significant differences in perception across tone pairs, highlighting potential challenges for language learning. They also confirmed that Mandarin listeners were more categorical in their perception than the naïve listeners, who showed higher discrimination accuracy than Mandarin listeners. The latter finding contrasts with previous results for naïve French speakers’ perception of Mandarin tone [2], and is consistent with an effect of native-language suprasegmental patterns on foreign-language tone perception.


DOI: 10.21437/TAL.2016-19

Cite as

Ling, W., Schafer, A. (2016) Tone Pair Similarity and the Perception of Mandarin Tones by Mandarin and English Listeners. Proc. Tonal Aspects of Languages 2016, 89-93.

Bibtex
@inproceedings{Ling+2016,
author={Wenyi Ling and Amy Schafer},
title={Tone Pair Similarity and the Perception of Mandarin Tones by Mandarin and English Listeners},
year=2016,
booktitle={Tonal Aspects of Languages 2016},
doi={10.21437/TAL.2016-19},
url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/TAL.2016-19},
pages={89--93}
}