Perception and lexical encoding of tone in a restricted tone language: Developmental evidence from Limburgian

Stefanie Ramachers, Susanne Brouwer, Paula Fikkert


Within the large family of tone languages, differences exist with respect to the importance and phonetic realization of tones. It remains unclear how these differences influence the acquisition and processing of lexical tone. Limburgian, spoken in the south of the Netherlands, is assumed to have lexical tone, but it has a lower functional load than for example Mandarin Chinese. Moreover, lexical tone in Limburgian is subject to an intriguing amount of surface variation. We compared performance of native Limburgians to native non-tonal Dutch controls on a series of behavioral experiments: Discrimination of lexical tone in the first year of life (Exp. 1) and in adulthood (Exp. 2), and the encoding of lexical tone during word learning in toddlers and adults (Exp. 3). Our results partly deviate from previous research on tone languages like Mandarin, but are on a par with recent findings with Japanese children, suggesting that the acquisition and processing of lexical tone indeed seems to be influenced by functional load and phonetic variability.


 DOI: 10.21437/TAL.2018-22

Cite as: Ramachers, S., Brouwer, S., Fikkert, P. (2018) Perception and lexical encoding of tone in a restricted tone language: Developmental evidence from Limburgian. Proc. TAL2018, Sixth International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages, 108-113, DOI: 10.21437/TAL.2018-22.


@inproceedings{Ramachers2018,
  author={ Stefanie Ramachers and Susanne Brouwer and Paula Fikkert},
  title={ Perception and lexical encoding of tone in a restricted tone language: Developmental evidence from Limburgian},
  year=2018,
  booktitle={Proc. TAL2018, Sixth International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages},
  pages={108--113},
  doi={10.21437/TAL.2018-22},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/TAL.2018-22}
}