Cross-language perception of Mandarin lexical tones by Mongolian-speaking bilinguals in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China

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    1 Citation (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Mandarin is a representative tonal language with four contrastive 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 purpose of this research was to examine how native Mongolian-speaking bilinguals perceive Mandarin lexical tones. The 24 (17 females, 7 males) participants studied Mandarin for 15 years on average in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China. A discrimination experiment was conducted to assess Mongolian bilinguals' perception of six tone pairs (T1-T2, T1-T3, T1-T4, T2-T3, T2-T4, T3-T4). The Mongolian group was less accurate than the control group of ten native Mandarin listeners for all six pairs and the between-group difference was particularly large for T2-T3. However, large individual variation was observed and some Mongolian bilinguals perceived Mandarin tones as accurately as native Mandarin listeners, suggesting that native-like tone perception is attainable in subsequently acquired languages.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationINTERSPEECH 2018
    Subtitle of host publicationproceedings of the Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association
    Place of PublicationBaixas, France
    PublisherInternational Speech Communication Association (ISCA)
    Pages2539-2543
    Number of pages5
    ISBN (Print)9781510872219
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2018
    EventInterspeech (19th : 2018) - Hyderabad, India
    Duration: 2 Sep 20186 Sep 2018

    Publication series

    NameInterspeech
    ISSN (Print)1990-9772
    ISSN (Electronic)2308-457X

    Conference

    ConferenceInterspeech (19th : 2018)
    CountryIndia
    CityHyderabad
    Period2/09/186/09/18

    Keywords

    • perception
    • Mandarin
    • Mongolian
    • lexical tones
    • bilingualism

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