ISCA Archive SpeechProsody 2010
ISCA Archive SpeechProsody 2010

Categorization of lexical tones in Mandarin-learning infants

Jun Gao, Rushen Shi, Aijun Li

It is well-known that children are born with the perceptual ability to discriminate not only native phonetic contrasts, but also non-native ones. However, recent research suggests that not all contrasts are equally discriminable. Children cannot discriminate some acoustically similar phonetic contrasts early in infancy. They need a certain period of exposure with these contrasts to learn to discriminate them. In this study we inquired if similar lexical tones are discriminable in young infants. Mandarin-learning 4-13-month-olds' categorization of Mandarin rising and dipping tones were assessed in a visual habituation procedure. The results show that infants successfully categorized the two similar tones.

Index Terms: infant speech perception, language acquisition, categorization, lexical tones

Cite as: Gao, J., Shi, R., Li, A. (2010) Categorization of lexical tones in Mandarin-learning infants. Proc. Speech Prosody 2010, paper 946

  author={Jun Gao and Rushen Shi and Aijun Li},
  title={{Categorization of lexical tones in Mandarin-learning infants}},
  booktitle={Proc. Speech Prosody 2010},
  pages={paper 946}