Orthographic effects on the perception and production of L2 mandarin tones

Peggy Pik Ki MOK, Kwing Lok Albert LEE, Joanne Jingwen LI, Robert Bo XU

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Recent studies on orthographic effects on L2 phonology have typically investigated alphabetic writing systems and segmental contrasts with novice learners. The current study extends such investigation to compare orthographic effects of an opaque logographic system (Chinese characters) and a transparent schematic system (pinyin) on a suprasegmental feature (lexical tones) with experienced learners. A perception experiment of Mandarin tones by Cantonese L2 learners shows that pinyin was more beneficial for tone perception in monosyllabic words, while tones were better perceived in characters for disyllabic words. A production experiment reveals a similar pattern. Additionally, low performance learners were affected by orthographic differences more than high performance learners. The findings suggest that orthographic effects are not limited to alphabetic systems, and are dependent on task nature and learner proficiency. A transparent system may not always be easier than an opaque system. Copyright © 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
JournalSpeech Communication
Early online date16 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


Mok, P. P. K., Lee, A., Li, J. J., & Xu, R. B. (2018). Orthographic effects on the perception and production of L2 mandarin tones. Speech Communication, 101, 1-10. doi: 10.1016/j.specom.2018.05.002


  • Orthography
  • Tone
  • Perception
  • Production
  • Acquisition
  • Cantonese
  • Mandarin


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