The Effect of Intertalker Variations on Acoustic–Perceptual Mapping in Cantonese and Mandarin Tone Systems PurposeThis study investigates the impact of intertalker variations on the process of mapping acoustic variations on tone categories in two different tone languages.MethodPitch stimuli manipulated from four voice ranges were presented in isolation through a blocked-talker design. Listeners were instructed to identify the stimuli that they heard as lexical tones ... Article
Article  |   April 01, 2012
The Effect of Intertalker Variations on Acoustic–Perceptual Mapping in Cantonese and Mandarin Tone Systems
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Gang Peng
    The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong SAR, People’s Republic of China
  • Caicai Zhang
    The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong SAR, People’s Republic of China
  • Hong-Ying Zheng
    The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong SAR, People’s Republic of China
  • James W. Minett
    The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong SAR, People’s Republic of China
  • William S.-Y. Wang
    The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong SAR, People’s Republic of China
  • Correspondence to Gang Peng: gpeng@ee.cuhk.edu.hk
  • Editor: Anne Smith
    Editor: Anne Smith×
  • Associate Editor: Patrick Wong
    Associate Editor: Patrick Wong×
Article Information
Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Speech
Article   |   April 01, 2012
The Effect of Intertalker Variations on Acoustic–Perceptual Mapping in Cantonese and Mandarin Tone Systems
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2012, Vol. 55, 579-595. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/11-0025)
History: Received January 26, 2011 , Revised June 13, 2011 , Accepted August 8, 2011
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2012, Vol. 55, 579-595. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/11-0025)
History: Received January 26, 2011; Revised June 13, 2011; Accepted August 8, 2011
Web of Science® Times Cited: 14

PurposeThis study investigates the impact of intertalker variations on the process of mapping acoustic variations on tone categories in two different tone languages.

MethodPitch stimuli manipulated from four voice ranges were presented in isolation through a blocked-talker design. Listeners were instructed to identify the stimuli that they heard as lexical tones in their native language.

ResultsTone identification of Mandarin listeners exhibited relatively stable normalization regardless of the voice, whereas tone identification of Cantonese listeners was unstable and susceptible to the influence of intertalker variations. In the case of Cantonese listeners, intertalker variations had a larger effect on the perception of F0 height dimension than of F0 slope dimension.

ConclusionThe comparison between Cantonese and Mandarin listeners' performances reveals an interaction of intertalker variations and the types of tone contrasts in each language. For Cantonese tones, which depend heavily on F0 height distinctions, intertalker variations result in F0 overlapping and, consequently, ambiguities among them in isolated tone perception. For Mandarin tones, which are distinctive in terms of their F0 contours, the differences in F0 contours alone seem sufficient to elicit reliable tone identification. Intertalker variations therefore have relatively limited effect on Mandarin tone perception.

Acknowledgments
The work described in this article was partially supported by grants from National Science Foundation of China (NSFC: 11074267) and the Research Grant Council of Hong Kong (GRF: 455911).
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