Beyond segments: towards a lexical model for tonal bilinguals

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Abstract

This review attempts to chart a research program that focuses on tonal bilingualism. More than 70% of the world languages use pitch contours to disambiguate word meanings, however, limited empirical and theoretical effort were made to understand the processing mechanisms of lexical tones in the bilingual context. This article will start with the main characteristics of tonal languages, with a focus on Mandarin Chinese, followed by empirical findings on lexical tones in both monolingual and bilingual populations. Finally, this article will propose a few important theoretical issues relevant to tonal bilingualism and implications of learning a tonal language as a second/foreign language.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Second Language Studies
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Jul 2021

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