Are Asian language speakers similar or different? The perception of Mandarin lexical tones by naïve listeners from tonal language backgrounds: a preliminary comparison of Thai and Vietnamese listeners

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Mandarin is one of the most representative tonal languages in the world with four tone categories (Tone 1 (T1): high level (ā); Tone 2 (T2): high rising (á); Tone 3 (T3): dipping (ǎ); Tone 4 (T4): high falling (à)). Learning Mandarin tones is known to be difficult for speakers from diverse linguistic backgrounds. The perception of Mandarin tones by naïve, non-native listeners from two tonal languages with a larger tone inventory than Mandarin—Thai and Vietnamese—was examined. The listeners’ discrimination accuracy of six tone pairs (T1–T2, T1–T3, T1–T4, T2–T3, T2–T4, T3–T4) was assessed and compared to that of native speakers of Mandarin on the one hand and Australian English on the other hand. The Thai and Vietnamese groups were clearly less accurate than the Mandarin group and showed a different pattern of results from each other. The Australian English group was less accurate than the Thai group only for T2–T4 and did not differ from the Vietnamese group for any of the pairs. Taken together, these findings suggest that first language tone knowledge may not necessarily be facilitative and that lack of experience with lexical tones may not disadvantage listeners from non-tonal language backgrounds in processing unfamiliar tones.

LanguageEnglish
Pages329-346
Number of pages18
JournalAustralian Journal of Linguistics
Volume39
Issue number3
Early online date4 Jun 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2019

Fingerprint

listener
language
Group
discrimination
Asian Languages
Lexical Tone
Language
Tonal
Listeners
linguistics
lack
Australian English
learning
experience
Tone Language
Discrimination
Native Speaker

Keywords

  • cross-language Speech Perception
  • Mandarin Lexical Tones
  • Thai
  • Vietnamese
  • Australian English

Cite this

@article{d21f593fffb34425829fdece911812ac,
title = "Are Asian language speakers similar or different? The perception of Mandarin lexical tones by na{\"i}ve listeners from tonal language backgrounds: a preliminary comparison of Thai and Vietnamese listeners",
abstract = "Mandarin is one of the most representative tonal languages in the world with four tone categories (Tone 1 (T1): high level (ā); Tone 2 (T2): high rising ({\'a}); Tone 3 (T3): dipping (ǎ); Tone 4 (T4): high falling ({\`a})). Learning Mandarin tones is known to be difficult for speakers from diverse linguistic backgrounds. The perception of Mandarin tones by na{\"i}ve, non-native listeners from two tonal languages with a larger tone inventory than Mandarin—Thai and Vietnamese—was examined. The listeners’ discrimination accuracy of six tone pairs (T1–T2, T1–T3, T1–T4, T2–T3, T2–T4, T3–T4) was assessed and compared to that of native speakers of Mandarin on the one hand and Australian English on the other hand. The Thai and Vietnamese groups were clearly less accurate than the Mandarin group and showed a different pattern of results from each other. The Australian English group was less accurate than the Thai group only for T2–T4 and did not differ from the Vietnamese group for any of the pairs. Taken together, these findings suggest that first language tone knowledge may not necessarily be facilitative and that lack of experience with lexical tones may not disadvantage listeners from non-tonal language backgrounds in processing unfamiliar tones.",
keywords = "cross-language Speech Perception, Mandarin Lexical Tones, Thai, Vietnamese, Australian English",
author = "Kimiko Tsukada",
year = "2019",
month = "7",
day = "3",
doi = "10.1080/07268602.2019.1620681",
language = "English",
volume = "39",
pages = "329--346",
journal = "Australian Journal of Linguistics",
issn = "0726-8602",
publisher = "Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group",
number = "3",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Are Asian language speakers similar or different? The perception of Mandarin lexical tones by naïve listeners from tonal language backgrounds

T2 - Australian Journal of Linguistics

AU - Tsukada, Kimiko

PY - 2019/7/3

Y1 - 2019/7/3

N2 - Mandarin is one of the most representative tonal languages in the world with four tone categories (Tone 1 (T1): high level (ā); Tone 2 (T2): high rising (á); Tone 3 (T3): dipping (ǎ); Tone 4 (T4): high falling (à)). Learning Mandarin tones is known to be difficult for speakers from diverse linguistic backgrounds. The perception of Mandarin tones by naïve, non-native listeners from two tonal languages with a larger tone inventory than Mandarin—Thai and Vietnamese—was examined. The listeners’ discrimination accuracy of six tone pairs (T1–T2, T1–T3, T1–T4, T2–T3, T2–T4, T3–T4) was assessed and compared to that of native speakers of Mandarin on the one hand and Australian English on the other hand. The Thai and Vietnamese groups were clearly less accurate than the Mandarin group and showed a different pattern of results from each other. The Australian English group was less accurate than the Thai group only for T2–T4 and did not differ from the Vietnamese group for any of the pairs. Taken together, these findings suggest that first language tone knowledge may not necessarily be facilitative and that lack of experience with lexical tones may not disadvantage listeners from non-tonal language backgrounds in processing unfamiliar tones.

AB - Mandarin is one of the most representative tonal languages in the world with four tone categories (Tone 1 (T1): high level (ā); Tone 2 (T2): high rising (á); Tone 3 (T3): dipping (ǎ); Tone 4 (T4): high falling (à)). Learning Mandarin tones is known to be difficult for speakers from diverse linguistic backgrounds. The perception of Mandarin tones by naïve, non-native listeners from two tonal languages with a larger tone inventory than Mandarin—Thai and Vietnamese—was examined. The listeners’ discrimination accuracy of six tone pairs (T1–T2, T1–T3, T1–T4, T2–T3, T2–T4, T3–T4) was assessed and compared to that of native speakers of Mandarin on the one hand and Australian English on the other hand. The Thai and Vietnamese groups were clearly less accurate than the Mandarin group and showed a different pattern of results from each other. The Australian English group was less accurate than the Thai group only for T2–T4 and did not differ from the Vietnamese group for any of the pairs. Taken together, these findings suggest that first language tone knowledge may not necessarily be facilitative and that lack of experience with lexical tones may not disadvantage listeners from non-tonal language backgrounds in processing unfamiliar tones.

KW - cross-language Speech Perception

KW - Mandarin Lexical Tones

KW - Thai

KW - Vietnamese

KW - Australian English

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85067019564&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1080/07268602.2019.1620681

DO - 10.1080/07268602.2019.1620681

M3 - Article

VL - 39

SP - 329

EP - 346

JO - Australian Journal of Linguistics

JF - Australian Journal of Linguistics

SN - 0726-8602

IS - 3

ER -