Influence of lexical tone similarity on spoken word recognition in Mandarin Chinese: Evidence from eye tracking

Shuang LI, Xiuhong TONG, Wei SHEN

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Using the visual world paradigm with the eye-tracking technique, this study examined the extent to which lexical tone similarity influences spoken word recognition. 

Method: In two experiments, participants were audibly presented with a target word and visually presented with the same target word, a tonal competitor, and two distractors, and they were required to identify the target word. In Experiment 1, the two tonal competitors shared either acoustically highly similar tones (e.g., target word: “阳台” /yang2tai2/, “balcony” vs. competitor: “养子” /yang3zi3/, “adopted son”) or acoustically lowly similar tones (e.g., target word: “阳台” /yang2tai2/, “balcony” vs. competitor: “样本” /yang4ben3/, “sample”). In Experiment 2, the acoustic similarity of the target words and the tonal competitors shared either acoustically highly similar tones or acoustically lowly similar tones or identical tones (e.g., target word: “阳台” /yang2tai2/, “balcony” vs. competitor: 羊毛” /yang2mao2/, “wool”).

Results: The results of the two experiments consistently demonstrated a graded tonal competitor effect, in which acoustically highly similar tonal competitors attracted more visual attention than acoustically lowly similar tonal competitors. 

Conclusion: Tonal similarity plays a graded constraining role in spoken word recognition in Mandarin Chinese. Copyright © 2023 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3453-3472
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Volume66
Issue number9
Early online dateAug 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023

Citation

Li, S., Tong, X., & Shen, W. (2023). Influence of lexical tone similarity on spoken word recognition in Mandarin Chinese: Evidence from eye tracking. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 66(9), 3453-3472. https://doi.org/10.1044/2023_JSLHR-22-00297

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