5th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing

Sydney, Australia
November 30 - December 4, 1998

Segmental and Tonal Processing in Cantonese

Hsuan-Chih Chen, Michael C. W. Yip, Sum-Yin Wong

Department of Psychology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China

In a tone language, such as Cantonese, both segmental and tonal distinctions between words are pervasive. However, previous work in Cantonese has demonstrated that in speeded-response tasks, tone is more likely to be misprocessed than is segmental structure. The present study examined whether this tone disadvantage would also hold after the initial auditory processing of a syllable had been done. Cantonese listeners were asked to perform same-different judgments on two sequentially presented open syllables along a specific dimension (i.e., onset, rime, tone, or the whole syllable) according to an instruction which was visually presented at the acoustic offset of the second syllable. Manipulating whether the difference between two syllables was in onset, rime, or tone resulted in equally robust effects across the various decision tasks on performance, indicating that tone functions as effectively as segmental structure in spoken-word processing once the related information of a syllable is encoded.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Chen, Hsuan-Chih / Yip, Michael C. W. / Wong, Sum-Yin (1998): "Segmental and tonal processing in Cantonese", In ICSLP-1998, paper 0660.