Effects of Lexical Tone Contour on Mandarin Sentence Intelligibility PurposeThis study examined the effects of lexical tone contour on the intelligibility of Mandarin sentences in quiet and in noise.MethodA text-to-speech synthesis engine was used to synthesize Mandarin sentences with each word carrying the original lexical tone, flat tone, or a tone randomly selected from the 4 Mandarin lexical tones. ... Research Article
Research Article  |   February 01, 2014
Effects of Lexical Tone Contour on Mandarin Sentence Intelligibility
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Fei Chen
    University of Hong Kong, China
  • Lena L. N. Wong
    University of Hong Kong, China
  • Yi Hu
    University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee
  • Disclosure:The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure:The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Fei Chen or to Yi Hu: feichen1@hku.hk or huy@uwm.edu
  • Editor: Craig Champlin
    Editor: Craig Champlin×
  • Associate Editor: Li Xu
    Associate Editor: Li Xu×
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Hearing
Research Article   |   February 01, 2014
Effects of Lexical Tone Contour on Mandarin Sentence Intelligibility
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2014, Vol. 57, 338-345. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2013/12-0324)
History: Received October 12, 2012 , Revised May 11, 2013 , Accepted May 23, 2013
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2014, Vol. 57, 338-345. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2013/12-0324)
History: Received October 12, 2012; Revised May 11, 2013; Accepted May 23, 2013
Web of Science® Times Cited: 20

PurposeThis study examined the effects of lexical tone contour on the intelligibility of Mandarin sentences in quiet and in noise.

MethodA text-to-speech synthesis engine was used to synthesize Mandarin sentences with each word carrying the original lexical tone, flat tone, or a tone randomly selected from the 4 Mandarin lexical tones. The synthesized speech signals were presented to 11 normal-hearing listeners for recognition in quiet and in speech-shaped noise at 0 dB signal-to-noise ratio.

ResultsNormal-hearing listeners nearly perfectly recognized the Mandarin sentences produced with modified tone contours in quiet; however, performance declined substantially in noise.

ConclusionsConsistent with previous findings to some extent, the present findings suggest that lexical tones are relatively redundant cues for Mandarin sentence intelligibility in quiet and that other cues could compensate for the distorted lexical tone contour. However, in noise, the results provide direct evidence that lexical tone contour is important for the recognition of Mandarin sentences.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by the Faculty Research Fund at the Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong; by Seed Funding for Basic Research at the University of Hong Kong; and by the General Research Fund, administered by the Hong Kong Research Grants Council.
Order a Subscription
Pay Per View
Entire Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research content & archive
24-hour access
This Article
24-hour access