Interspeech'2005 - Eurospeech

Lisbon, Portugal
September 4-8, 2005

Cross-Language Perception of Word Stress

Hansjörg Mixdorff (1), Yu Hu (2)

(1) TFH Berlin, Germany; (2) University of Science & Technology, China

This paper presents a study of the perception of Mandarin disyllabic words by native speakers of German. It examines how speakers of an accent language perceive word stress in words from a tone language. A corpus of 15 sets of words with all possible combinations of the four tones of Mandarin was recorded by a professional speaker. In addition monotonized versions of the words were created. In a forced-choice listening experiment native speakers of German were asked to assess whether they perceived the word stress on the first or second syllable. Results include, inter alia, that words with two high tones, as well as the monotonized stimuli were predominantly perceived as carrying the word stress on the first syllable. Words with a falling tone on the second syllable were mostly classified as carrying stress on the second syllable, with the combination of low and falling tone yielding the highest score. Many combinations of tones, however, could not be identified as any of the two kinds. This suggests that though some tonal configurations in Mandarin are similar to German two-syllable word accent patterns and can be associated with the latter, others might be rather interpreted as pertaining to two mono-syllabic words, both of which are stressed.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Mixdorff, Hansjörg / Hu, Yu (2005): "Cross-language perception of word stress", In INTERSPEECH-2005, 409-412.