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Title: The effect of Mandarin listeners' musical and pitch aptitude on perceptual learning of Cantonese level-tones
Authors: Qin, Z
Zhang, C 
Wang, WSY 
Issue Date: Jan-2021
Source: Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, Jan. 2021, v. 149, no. 1, p. 435-446
Abstract: Contrary to studies on speech learning of consonants and vowels, the issue of individual variability is less well understood in the learning of lexical tones. Whereas existing studies have focused on contour-tone learning (Mandarin) by listeners without experience of a tonal language, this study addressed a research gap by investigating the perceptual learning of level-tone contrasts (Cantonese) by learners with experience of a contour-tone system (Mandarin). Critically, we sought to answer the question of how Mandarin listeners' initial perception and learning of Cantonese level-tones are affected by their musical and pitch aptitude. Mandarin-speaking participants completed a pretest, training, and a posttest in the level-tone discrimination and identification (ID) tasks. They were assessed in musical aptitude and speech and nonspeech pitch thresholds before training. The results revealed a significant training effect in the ID task but not in the discrimination task. Importantly, the regression analyses showed an advantage of higher musical and pitch aptitude in perceiving Cantonese level-tone categories. The results explained part of the level-tone learning variability in speakers of a contour-tone system. The finding implies that prior experience of a tonal language does not necessarily override the advantage of listeners' musical and pitch aptitude.
Publisher: Acoustical Society of America
Journal: Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 
ISSN: 0001-4966
EISSN: 1520-8524
DOI: 10.1121/10.0003330
Rights: © 2021 Acoustical Society of America
This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the Acoustical Society of America.
The following article appeared in Zhen Qin, Caicai Zhang, and William Shi-yuan Wang, "The effect of Mandarin listeners' musical and pitch aptitude on perceptual learning of Cantonese level-tones", The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 149, 435-446 (2021) and may be found at https://dx.doi.org/10.1121/10.0003330.
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