Initial curvature of pitch contour affects fine-grained lexical tone perception of Mandarin but not Cantonese

Yanyuan Ye, Yicheng Rong, Gang Peng

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingConference article published in proceeding or bookAcademic researchpeer-review

Abstract

While the initial curvature (Wāntóu in Mandarin), a short curving portion at the onset of a pitch contour in tone languages, has been found inconsequential for distinguishing lexical tones, little is known about the role of this portion in fine-grained tone perception. To
address this issue, the current study examined categorisation in 20 Mandarin and 19 Cantonese speakers using two tone continua (/i/ varying from Tone 1 to Tone 2): one continuum was synthesised based on the level tone with initial curvature; the other was based on the one without it. Participants were required to identify lexical tones. Results of
Mandarin speakers revealed the initial curvature shifted the labelling boundary towards the rising tone, suggesting the initial curvature may affect finegrained tone perception. However, this effect was absent in the Cantonese group, indicating the effect of initial curvature might be subject to the complexity of the tone system and different phonetic composition
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 20th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS 2023)
EditorsRadek Skarnitzl, Jan Volín
PublisherGuarant International
Pages322-326
Edition5
ISBN (Electronic)9788090811423
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

Keywords

  • initial curvature
  • fine-grained perception
  • lexical tones
  • Mandarin and Cantonese

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