Date of Degree
Speech and Hearing Science
The present study examined the perception of Mandarin disyllabic tones by inexperienced American English speakers. Participants heard two naturally-produced Mandarin disyllables, and indicated if the two were the same or different. A small native Mandarin-speaking control group participated as well. All 21 possible Mandarin contrasts where the initial syllable varied but the final syllable stayed the same were tested. Acoustic analysis was performed on the stimuli under study. Mandarin subjects scored at ceiling on all contrasts. American English subjects performed poorly on contrasts where the difference in mean F0 was small, or where the difference in the offset F0 of the first syllable was small. They also performed poorly when the difference in slope of the final syllable was small. Previous research has proposed that American English listeners attend primarily to the height difference between two tone stimuli, but here they attended to height in the first syllable and contour in the second syllable.
Berkowitz, Shari Salzhauer, "Discrimination of Tone Contrasts in Mandarin Disyllables by Naïve American English Listeners" (2010). CUNY Academic Works.