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J Acoust Soc Am. 2013 Oct;134(4):3011-20. doi: 10.1121/1.4820887.

Just noticeable difference of tone pitch contour change for English- and Chinese-native listeners.

Author information

1
Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, The University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station A1100, Austin, Texas 78712.

Abstract

Just noticeable differences of tone pitch contour discrimination were examined for young English- and Mandarin Chinese-native listeners to examine categorical features of tone perception for the two groups of listeners. Three types of stimuli were used: A Mandarin Chinese vowel, an English vowel, and tonal glides. Level, rising, and falling tones within or across tone boundaries served as the standard stimuli to measure thresholds of tone pitch discrimination. Performance was equivalent between English- and Chinese-native listeners for level tones, but significantly differed for rising and falling tones, regardless of the type of stimuli. English listeners showed significantly lower thresholds at the offset of F0 shifts than Chinese listeners, while Chinese listeners discriminated tone pitch changes at the onset with significantly lower thresholds than their English peers. These psychophysical results, combined with tone perception reported in other studies, indicated that Mandarin-native listeners perceived lexical tones in a categorical manner, based on their lexical tone experience, whereas English-native listeners perceived tones on a psychophysical base.

PMID:
24116436
DOI:
10.1121/1.4820887
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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