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The Speech Processing Lexicon

Neurocognitive and Behavioural Approaches

Ed. by Lahiri, Aditi / Kotzor, Sandra

Series:Phonology and Phonetics [PP] 22

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Publication Date:
April 2017
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Processing acoustic variability in lexical tone perception

Lee, Chao-Yang


A fundamental question in speech perception is how listeners cope with various sources of acoustic variability to retrieve linguistic representations. In a series of studies, we explored the roles of stimulus and listener characteristics in lexical tone perception. In particular, we examined the effects of reduced acoustic input, contextual variation, noise, and speaker variability on Mandarin tone perception by native listeners, non-native listeners, and musicians. The findings show that reduced acoustic input, contextual variation, and noise disrupt non-native tone perception disproportionately. Speaker variability, on the other hand, appears to affect native and non-native tone perception similarly. Musicians have an advantage over non-musicians in tone perception, but the advantage is in identifying contour tones, not level tones. Taken together, these findings suggest that not all sources of acoustic variability affect lexical tone perception equally, and listener characteristics play a significant role in tone perception. Specifically, non-native tone perception is particularly susceptible to acoustic variability only when syllable-internal tonal information is compromised. The advantage of musicians in tone identification is most likely attributed to their superior ability to track F0 contours rather than detecting relative F0 height.

Citation Information

Chao-Yang Lee (2017). Processing acoustic variability in lexical tone perception. In Aditi Lahiri, Sandra Kotzor (Eds.), The Speech Processing Lexicon: Neurocognitive and Behavioural Approaches (pp. 129–154). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110422658-007

Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110422658

Online ISBN: 9783110422658

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/BostonGet Permission

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