Mandarin Tone Identification in Musicians and Non-musicians: Effects of Modality and Speaking Style

Yueqiao Han, Martijn Goudbeek, Maria Mos, Marc Swerts


A considerable amount of studies has shown that musical ability affects the success of second language learning. Extending the existing body of work, this study investigates the combined effects of musical ability, modality and speaking style for tone-naïve listeners in identifying Mandarin tones. In order to examine the added value of visual information and hyperarticulated speech, Mandarin tones were presented in two modalities (audio-only and audiovisual) and speaking styles (natural and teaching style) to listeners with or without musical experience. Results showed that musicians generally outperformed non-musicians, but that modality and speaking style both affected learning: both accuracy and response times were better in the audiovisual and teaching style conditions. In addition, the tones differed in learnability: the identification of tone 3 proved the easiest and all participants had more difficulty identifying tone 4. Nevertheless, musicians showed significantly greater accuracy in their identification of tones. These findings suggest that learning to perceive Mandarin tones benefits from musical expertise, visual information and hyperarticulated speaking style.


 DOI: 10.21437/TAL.2018-24

Cite as: Han, Y., Goudbeek, M., Mos, M., Swerts, M. (2018) Mandarin Tone Identification in Musicians and Non-musicians: Effects of Modality and Speaking Style. Proc. TAL2018, Sixth International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages, 119-123, DOI: 10.21437/TAL.2018-24.


@inproceedings{Han2018,
  author={ Yueqiao Han and Martijn Goudbeek and Maria Mos and Marc Swerts},
  title={ Mandarin Tone Identification in Musicians and Non-musicians: Effects of Modality and Speaking Style},
  year=2018,
  booktitle={Proc. TAL2018, Sixth International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages},
  pages={119--123},
  doi={10.21437/TAL.2018-24},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/TAL.2018-24}
}