Five-year-olds' acoustic realization of mandarin tone sandhi and lexical tones in context are not yet fully adult-like

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Abstract

Large numbers of children around the world are learning tone languages, but few studies have examined the acoustic properties of children's early tone productions. Even more scarce are acquisition studies on tone sandhi, a tone change phenomenon which alters the surface realization of lexical tones. Two studies using perceptual coding report the emergence of lexical tone and tone sandhi at around 2 years (Li and Thompson, 1977; Hua and Dodd, 2000). However, the only acoustic study available shows that 3-year-olds are not yet adult-like in their lexical tone productions (Wong, 2012). This raises questions about when children's productions become acoustically adult-like and how their tone productions differ from those of adults. These questions were addressed in the current study which compared Mandarin-speaking pre-schoolers' (3-5-year-olds) tone productions to that of adults. A picture naming task was used with disyllabic real words familiar to pre-schoolers. Overall children produced appropriate tone contours for all tones, i.e., level for tone 1, rising for tones 2, 3 and full sandhi, falling for tone 4 and half sandhi. However, children's productions were not adult-like for tones 3, 4, and the sandhi forms, in terms of coordinating pitch range, slope and curvature, with little evidence of development across ages. These results suggest a protracted process in achieving adult-like acoustic realization of both lexical and sandhi tones.

LanguageEnglish
Article number817
Pages1-10
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2018

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Copyright the Author(s) 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

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title = "Five-year-olds' acoustic realization of mandarin tone sandhi and lexical tones in context are not yet fully adult-like",
abstract = "Large numbers of children around the world are learning tone languages, but few studies have examined the acoustic properties of children's early tone productions. Even more scarce are acquisition studies on tone sandhi, a tone change phenomenon which alters the surface realization of lexical tones. Two studies using perceptual coding report the emergence of lexical tone and tone sandhi at around 2 years (Li and Thompson, 1977; Hua and Dodd, 2000). However, the only acoustic study available shows that 3-year-olds are not yet adult-like in their lexical tone productions (Wong, 2012). This raises questions about when children's productions become acoustically adult-like and how their tone productions differ from those of adults. These questions were addressed in the current study which compared Mandarin-speaking pre-schoolers' (3-5-year-olds) tone productions to that of adults. A picture naming task was used with disyllabic real words familiar to pre-schoolers. Overall children produced appropriate tone contours for all tones, i.e., level for tone 1, rising for tones 2, 3 and full sandhi, falling for tone 4 and half sandhi. However, children's productions were not adult-like for tones 3, 4, and the sandhi forms, in terms of coordinating pitch range, slope and curvature, with little evidence of development across ages. These results suggest a protracted process in achieving adult-like acoustic realization of both lexical and sandhi tones.",
keywords = "lexical tone acquisition, tone sandhi, mandarin, acoustic analysis, pre-schoolers",
author = "{Xu Rattanasone}, Nan and Ping Tang and Ivan Yuen and Liqun Gao and Katherine Demuth",
note = "Copyright the Author(s) 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.",
year = "2018",
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Five-year-olds' acoustic realization of mandarin tone sandhi and lexical tones in context are not yet fully adult-like. / Xu Rattanasone, Nan; Tang, Ping; Yuen, Ivan; Gao, Liqun; Demuth, Katherine.

In: Frontiers in Psychology, Vol. 9, 817, 28.05.2018, p. 1-10.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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T1 - Five-year-olds' acoustic realization of mandarin tone sandhi and lexical tones in context are not yet fully adult-like

AU - Xu Rattanasone,Nan

AU - Tang,Ping

AU - Yuen,Ivan

AU - Gao,Liqun

AU - Demuth,Katherine

N1 - Copyright the Author(s) 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

PY - 2018/5/28

Y1 - 2018/5/28

N2 - Large numbers of children around the world are learning tone languages, but few studies have examined the acoustic properties of children's early tone productions. Even more scarce are acquisition studies on tone sandhi, a tone change phenomenon which alters the surface realization of lexical tones. Two studies using perceptual coding report the emergence of lexical tone and tone sandhi at around 2 years (Li and Thompson, 1977; Hua and Dodd, 2000). However, the only acoustic study available shows that 3-year-olds are not yet adult-like in their lexical tone productions (Wong, 2012). This raises questions about when children's productions become acoustically adult-like and how their tone productions differ from those of adults. These questions were addressed in the current study which compared Mandarin-speaking pre-schoolers' (3-5-year-olds) tone productions to that of adults. A picture naming task was used with disyllabic real words familiar to pre-schoolers. Overall children produced appropriate tone contours for all tones, i.e., level for tone 1, rising for tones 2, 3 and full sandhi, falling for tone 4 and half sandhi. However, children's productions were not adult-like for tones 3, 4, and the sandhi forms, in terms of coordinating pitch range, slope and curvature, with little evidence of development across ages. These results suggest a protracted process in achieving adult-like acoustic realization of both lexical and sandhi tones.

AB - Large numbers of children around the world are learning tone languages, but few studies have examined the acoustic properties of children's early tone productions. Even more scarce are acquisition studies on tone sandhi, a tone change phenomenon which alters the surface realization of lexical tones. Two studies using perceptual coding report the emergence of lexical tone and tone sandhi at around 2 years (Li and Thompson, 1977; Hua and Dodd, 2000). However, the only acoustic study available shows that 3-year-olds are not yet adult-like in their lexical tone productions (Wong, 2012). This raises questions about when children's productions become acoustically adult-like and how their tone productions differ from those of adults. These questions were addressed in the current study which compared Mandarin-speaking pre-schoolers' (3-5-year-olds) tone productions to that of adults. A picture naming task was used with disyllabic real words familiar to pre-schoolers. Overall children produced appropriate tone contours for all tones, i.e., level for tone 1, rising for tones 2, 3 and full sandhi, falling for tone 4 and half sandhi. However, children's productions were not adult-like for tones 3, 4, and the sandhi forms, in terms of coordinating pitch range, slope and curvature, with little evidence of development across ages. These results suggest a protracted process in achieving adult-like acoustic realization of both lexical and sandhi tones.

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KW - tone sandhi

KW - mandarin

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SN - 1664-1078

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