Article

Monosyllabic mandarin tone productions by 3-year-olds growing up in taiwan and in the United States: interjudge reliability and perceptual results.

Correspondence to Puisan Wong: .
Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research (Impact Factor: 1.97). 02/2012; 55(5):1423-37. DOI: 10.1044/1092-4388(2012/11-0273)
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The author compared monosyllabic Mandarin lexical tones produced by 3-year-old Mandarin-speaking children growing up in Taiwan and in the United States.
Following the procedures in Wong, Schwartz, and Jenkins (2005), the author collected monosyllabic tone productions from 3-year-old Mandarin-speaking children in Taiwan and low-pass filtered them to eliminate lexical information but retain tone information. Five Mandarin-speaking adults residing in Taiwan categorized these filtered tones and those produced by the Mandarin-speaking children growing up in the United States, the latter of which was reported in Wong et al. (2005). Agreements on tone categorization by judges residing in Taiwan and in the United States were evaluated. Tone accuracy of children growing up in Taiwan and the United States were examined and compared.
The Mandarin-speaking judges residing in the United States and in Taiwan showed high agreements on tone categorization. None of the 4 tones produced by the Mandarin-speaking children growing up in the United States and in Taiwan was adultlike.Children in Taiwan made more errors in Tone 2 and Tone 4 than did Mandarin-speaking children growing up in the United States. Accuracy rates of Tone 1 and Tone 3 were comparable in the 2 groups of children.
Mandarin tone acquisition is a protracted process. Three-year-old Mandarin-speaking children growing up in Taiwan and the United States show similar developmental patterns and have not yet produced monosyllabic tones with adultlike accuracy.

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    ABSTRACT: This study used the same methodology in Wong [J. Speech Lang. Hear. Res. 55, 1423-1437 (2012b)] to examine the perceived accuracy of monosyllabic Mandarin tones produced by 4- and 5-year-old Mandarin-speaking children growing up in Taiwan and combined the findings with those of 3-year-olds reported in Wong [J. Speech Lang. Hear. Res. 55, 1423-1437 (2012b)] to track the development of monosyllabic tone production in preschool children. Tone productions of adults and children were collected in a picture naming task and low-pass filtered to remove lexical information and reserve tone information. Five native-speakers categorized the target tones in the filtered productions. Children's tone accuracy was compared to adults' to determine mastery and developmental changes. The results showed that preschool children in Taiwan have not fully mastered the production of monosyllabic Mandarin tones. None of the tones produced by the children in the three age groups reached adult-like accuracy. Little developmental change was found in children's tone accuracy during the preschool years. A similar order of accuracy of the tones was observed across the three age groups and the order appeared to follow the order of articulatory complexity in producing the tones. The findings suggest a protracted course of development in children's acquisition of Mandarin tones and that tone development may be constrained by physiological factors.
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