Yanping Li, Catherine T. Best, Michael D. Tyler, Denis Burnham
Friday, December 16th, 2022, 1.15pm – 1.45pm
Mandarin-naïve English listeners have difficulties categorizing the four lexical tones that distinguish word meanings in Mandarin. This study investigated how L2-Mandarin regional accent variability in training on minimal-tone-contrast words affected tone perception. Prior to training, although listeners accurately categorized and discriminated rising and dipping tones, they confused falling and level tone significantly more than the other tone contrasts. After training, learners in the accent variability (experimental) condition showed improved categorization and discrimination of falling and level tones; constant-accent (control condition) learners did not. The results supported the hypothesis that accent variability during lexical tone word training facilitates tone categorization.