Production and perception of tones by Dutch learners of Mandarin

Author: Ting Zou
LOT Number: 472
ISBN: 978-94-6093-255-7
Pages: 157
Year: 2017
1st promotor: Prof. dr. Vincent J. van Heuven
2nd promotor: Dr. Yiya Chen
3rd promotor: Dr. Johanneke Caspers
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Production and perception of tones by Dutch learners of Mandarin


The function of pitch movements varies across languages. Tone languages, such
as Mandarin Chinese, use pitch configurations to differentiate between word
forms. For non-tone languages (such as Dutch and English), pitch information is
mainly used at the post-lexical level, e.g., to signal sentential prominence or delimit
prosodic constituents. Therefore, learning to use lexical tones is always difficult for
non-tone second language learners of Mandarin who are not familiar with using
pitch information in a lexically contrastive way.
This thesis investigates various aspects of production and perception of tones by
beginning and advanced Dutch learners of Mandarin. Through a series of four
experiments, this thesis examines the developmental path of Dutch learners
of Mandarin at the university level in their acquisition of fine-grained tonal
coarticulation patterns, distribution of attention between segments and tones,
phonological processing of tones and using tonal information in spoken word
recognition. The mechanisms underlying the learners’ tone acquisition are discussed
with reference to current theories and models of second language acquisition and
spoken word recognition.

Production and perception of tones by Dutch learners of Mandarin


The function of pitch movements varies across languages. Tone languages, such
as Mandarin Chinese, use pitch configurations to differentiate between word
forms. For non-tone languages (such as Dutch and English), pitch information is
mainly used at the post-lexical level, e.g., to signal sentential prominence or delimit
prosodic constituents. Therefore, learning to use lexical tones is always difficult for
non-tone second language learners of Mandarin who are not familiar with using
pitch information in a lexically contrastive way.
This thesis investigates various aspects of production and perception of tones by
beginning and advanced Dutch learners of Mandarin. Through a series of four
experiments, this thesis examines the developmental path of Dutch learners
of Mandarin at the university level in their acquisition of fine-grained tonal
coarticulation patterns, distribution of attention between segments and tones,
phonological processing of tones and using tonal information in spoken word
recognition. The mechanisms underlying the learners’ tone acquisition are discussed
with reference to current theories and models of second language acquisition and
spoken word recognition.

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