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Lang Speech. 2015 Dec;58(Pt 4):417-40.

Phonological Encoding in Mandarin Chinese: Evidence from Tongue Twisters.


Models of connected speech production in Mandarin Chinese must specify how lexical tone, speech segments, and phrase-level prosody are integrated in speech production. This study used tongue twisters to test predictions of the two different models of word form encoding. Tongue twisters were constructed from 5 sets of characters that rotated pairs of initial segments or pairs of tones, or both, across format (ABAB, ABBA), and across position of the characters in four-character tongue twister strings. Fifty two native Mandarin Chinese speakers read aloud 120 tongue twisters, repeating each one six times in a row. They made a total of 3503 (2.34%) segment errors and 1372 (.92%) tone errors. Segment errors occurred on the onsets of the first and third characters in the ABBA but not ABAB segment-alternating tongue twisters, and on the onsets of the second and fourth characters of the tone-alternating tongue twisters. Tone errors were highest on the third and fourth characters in the tone-alternating tongue twisters. The pattern of tone errors is consistent with the claim that tone is associated to a metrical frame prior to segment encoding, while the format by position interaction found for the segment-alternating tongue twisters suggest articulatory gestures oscillate in segment production as proposed by gestural phonology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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