The acquisition of phonological alternations: the case of the Mandarin tone sandhi process

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Phonological processes can pose a learning challenge for children, where the surface form for an underlying contrast may vary as a function of the phonological environment. Mandarin tone sandhi is a complex phonological process that requires knowledge about both the tonal and the prosodic context in which it applies. The present study explored the productive knowledge of tone sandhi processes by 108 3- to 5-year-old Mandarin-speaking children and 33 adults. Participants were asked to produce novel tone sandhi compounds in different tonal contexts and prosodic structures. Acoustic analysis showed that 3-year-olds have abstracted the tone sandhi process and can productively apply it to novel disyllabic words across tonal contexts. However, even 5-year-olds still differed from adults in applying tone sandhi in response to the trisyllabic prosodic structure. The results are discussed in terms of the factors that influence how tone sandhi processes, and phonological alternations more generally, are acquired.

LanguageEnglish
Pages1495-1526
Number of pages32
JournalApplied Psycholinguistics
Volume40
Issue number6
Early online date16 Sep 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

Fingerprint

Acoustics
Learning
acoustics
speaking
Tone Sandhi
Alternation
learning
Tonal
Prosodic Structure
Phonological Processes

Keywords

  • Mandarin Chinese
  • phonological acquisition
  • phonological alternation
  • phonological representations
  • tone sandhi

Cite this

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title = "The acquisition of phonological alternations: the case of the Mandarin tone sandhi process",
abstract = "Phonological processes can pose a learning challenge for children, where the surface form for an underlying contrast may vary as a function of the phonological environment. Mandarin tone sandhi is a complex phonological process that requires knowledge about both the tonal and the prosodic context in which it applies. The present study explored the productive knowledge of tone sandhi processes by 108 3- to 5-year-old Mandarin-speaking children and 33 adults. Participants were asked to produce novel tone sandhi compounds in different tonal contexts and prosodic structures. Acoustic analysis showed that 3-year-olds have abstracted the tone sandhi process and can productively apply it to novel disyllabic words across tonal contexts. However, even 5-year-olds still differed from adults in applying tone sandhi in response to the trisyllabic prosodic structure. The results are discussed in terms of the factors that influence how tone sandhi processes, and phonological alternations more generally, are acquired.",
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The acquisition of phonological alternations : the case of the Mandarin tone sandhi process. / Tang, Ping; Yuen, Ivan; Xu Rattanasone, Nan; Gao, Liqun; Demuth, Katherine.

In: Applied Psycholinguistics, Vol. 40, No. 6, 11.2019, p. 1495-1526.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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