Speech Prosody 2012

Shanghai, China
May 22-25, 2012

Non-native Tone Perception from Infant to Adult: How Consistent and Flexible is it?

Liquan Liu, René Kager

Department of Linguistics, UiL-OTS, Utrecht University, the Netherlands

Dutch infants and adults are tested on their discrimination of a lexical tone contrast in Mandarin Chinese and a manipulated tone contrast differing solely in acoustic salience. Results show homogeneous tone discrimination pattern between adults and infants as early as 8-9 months. Specifically, Dutch infants and adults discriminate acoustic salient tonal contrast. When the salience is weakened, Dutch adults and infants after tonal perceptual reorganization phase fail to discriminate the non-native contrast. Their sensitivity is however enhanced with the help of statistical learning or training effect, showing the flexibility of non-native tone perception.

Index Terms: speech perception, tone, infant, adult

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Liu, Liquan / Kager, René (2012): "Non-native tone perception from infant to adult: how consistent and flexible is it?", In SP-2012, 346-349.