Volume 15 Issue 1
Mar.  2017
Article Contents

Wei-Yi Ma, Peng Zhou, Stephen Crain, Li-Qun Gao. Lexical Tones and Word Learning in Mandarin-Speaking Children at Three Years of Age[J]. Journal of Electronic Science and Technology, 2017, 15(1): 25-32. doi: 10.11989/JEST.1674-862X.6080217
Citation: Wei-Yi Ma, Peng Zhou, Stephen Crain, Li-Qun Gao. Lexical Tones and Word Learning in Mandarin-Speaking Children at Three Years of Age[J]. Journal of Electronic Science and Technology, 2017, 15(1): 25-32. doi: 10.11989/JEST.1674-862X.6080217

Lexical Tones and Word Learning in Mandarin-Speaking Children at Three Years of Age

doi: 10.11989/JEST.1674-862X.6080217
Funds:

This work was supported by Macquarie University ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders (CCD) through a CCD Research Fellowship and a National Educational Research Key Project under Grant No. GPA115005, and National Social Science Foundation of China under Grant No. 16BYY076

More Information
  • Author Bio:

    Wei-Yi Ma. His research interests include child development, language acquisition, cognitive neuroscience, and the perception of speech and music,e-mail:weiyi.ma@mq.edu.au;
    Peng Zhou. His research interests are in the area of developmental psycholinguistics in both typical and atypical populations;
    Stephen Crain. He was an investigator on grants in language development, language processing, and language disorders at Haskins Laboratories, Speech and Hearing Research Center in New Haven, USA;
    Li-Qun Gao. He research interests include language processing in both typical and atypical populations.

    Wei-Yi Ma. His research interests include child development, language acquisition, cognitive neuroscience, and the perception of speech and music,e-mail:weiyi.ma@mq.edu.au;
    Peng Zhou. His research interests are in the area of developmental psycholinguistics in both typical and atypical populations;
    Stephen Crain. He was an investigator on grants in language development, language processing, and language disorders at Haskins Laboratories, Speech and Hearing Research Center in New Haven, USA;
    Li-Qun Gao. He research interests include language processing in both typical and atypical populations.

    Wei-Yi Ma. His research interests include child development, language acquisition, cognitive neuroscience, and the perception of speech and music,e-mail:weiyi.ma@mq.edu.au;
    Peng Zhou. His research interests are in the area of developmental psycholinguistics in both typical and atypical populations;
    Stephen Crain. He was an investigator on grants in language development, language processing, and language disorders at Haskins Laboratories, Speech and Hearing Research Center in New Haven, USA;
    Li-Qun Gao. He research interests include language processing in both typical and atypical populations.

    Wei-Yi Ma. His research interests include child development, language acquisition, cognitive neuroscience, and the perception of speech and music,e-mail:weiyi.ma@mq.edu.au;
    Peng Zhou. His research interests are in the area of developmental psycholinguistics in both typical and atypical populations;
    Stephen Crain. He was an investigator on grants in language development, language processing, and language disorders at Haskins Laboratories, Speech and Hearing Research Center in New Haven, USA;
    Li-Qun Gao. He research interests include language processing in both typical and atypical populations.

  • Received Date: 2016-08-21
  • Rev Recd Date: 2016-12-23
  • Publish Date: 2017-03-25
  • Unlike Indo-European languages, Mandarin relies heavily on lexical tones to distinguish word identity. Using the intermodal preferential looking paradigm, this study examined 3-year-old Mandarin-speakers' ability to use Mandarin lexical tones in learning new words. Results showed that when children were presented with Tone 2 (rising) and Tone 4 (falling) pairs, children successfully learned both words. However, when children were presented with Tone 2 and Tone 3 (dipping) pairs, they learned the Tone 2 word but not the Tone 3 one. Children were then divided into two groups based on their learning performance on the Tone 3 word. Successful learning of Tone 3 words was observed in the high performers but not in the low performers, who consistently misused Tone 3 as Tone 2. This study showed that Mandarin-speaking 3-year-olds could use lexical tones to learn words under experimental conditions, and that the difficulty of Tone 3 acquisition may be related to its lower level of perceptual distinctiveness compared with other tones.
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Lexical Tones and Word Learning in Mandarin-Speaking Children at Three Years of Age

doi: 10.11989/JEST.1674-862X.6080217
Funds:

This work was supported by Macquarie University ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders (CCD) through a CCD Research Fellowship and a National Educational Research Key Project under Grant No. GPA115005, and National Social Science Foundation of China under Grant No. 16BYY076

  • Author Bio:

Abstract: Unlike Indo-European languages, Mandarin relies heavily on lexical tones to distinguish word identity. Using the intermodal preferential looking paradigm, this study examined 3-year-old Mandarin-speakers' ability to use Mandarin lexical tones in learning new words. Results showed that when children were presented with Tone 2 (rising) and Tone 4 (falling) pairs, children successfully learned both words. However, when children were presented with Tone 2 and Tone 3 (dipping) pairs, they learned the Tone 2 word but not the Tone 3 one. Children were then divided into two groups based on their learning performance on the Tone 3 word. Successful learning of Tone 3 words was observed in the high performers but not in the low performers, who consistently misused Tone 3 as Tone 2. This study showed that Mandarin-speaking 3-year-olds could use lexical tones to learn words under experimental conditions, and that the difficulty of Tone 3 acquisition may be related to its lower level of perceptual distinctiveness compared with other tones.

Wei-Yi Ma, Peng Zhou, Stephen Crain, Li-Qun Gao. Lexical Tones and Word Learning in Mandarin-Speaking Children at Three Years of Age[J]. Journal of Electronic Science and Technology, 2017, 15(1): 25-32. doi: 10.11989/JEST.1674-862X.6080217
Citation: Wei-Yi Ma, Peng Zhou, Stephen Crain, Li-Qun Gao. Lexical Tones and Word Learning in Mandarin-Speaking Children at Three Years of Age[J]. Journal of Electronic Science and Technology, 2017, 15(1): 25-32. doi: 10.11989/JEST.1674-862X.6080217
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