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LINGUIST List 19.524

Thu Feb 14 2008

Diss: Phonetics/Psycholing: Schwanhaeusser: 'Lexical Tone Perceptio...'

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        1.    Barbara Schwanhaeusser, Lexical Tone Perception and Production: The role of language and musical background

Message 1: Lexical Tone Perception and Production: The role of language and musical background
Date: 13-Feb-2008
From: Barbara Schwanhaeusser <b.schwanhaeussergmail.com>
Subject: Lexical Tone Perception and Production: The role of language and musical background
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Institution: University of Western Sydney
Program: MARCS Auditory Laboratories
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2008

Author: Barbara Schwanhaeusser

Dissertation Title: Lexical Tone Perception and Production: The role of language and musical background

Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics

Subject Language(s): Chinese, Mandarin (cmn)
                            English (eng)
                            Thai (tha)
                            Vietnamese (vie)

Dissertation Director:
Denis Burnham

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis is concerned with the perception and production of lexical
tone. In the first experiment, categorical perception of asymmetric
synthetic tone continua was examined in speakers of tonal (Thai, Mandarin,
and Vietnamese) and non-tonal (Australian English) languages. It was
observed that perceptual strategies for categorisation depend on language
background. Specifically, Mandarin and Vietnamese listeners tended to use
the central tone to divide the continuum, whereas Thai and Australian
English listeners used a flat no-contour tone as a perceptual anchor; a
split based not on tonal vs. non-tonal language background, but rather on
the specific language. In the second experiment, tonal (Thai) and non-tonal
(Australian English) language speaking musicians and non-musicians were
tested on categorical perception of two differently shaped synthetic tone
continua. Results showed that, independently of language background,
musicians learn to identify tones more quickly, show steeper identification
functions, and display higher discrimination accuracy than non-musicians.
Experiment three concerns the infuence of language aptitude, musical
aptitude, musical memory, and musical training on Australian English
speakers' perception and production of non-native (Thai) tones, consonants,
and vowels. The results showed that musicians were better than
non-musicians at perceiving and producing tones and consonants; a ceiling
effect was observed for vowel perception. Musical training per se did not
determine acquisition of novel speech sounds, rather, musicians' higher
accuracy was explained by a combination of inherent abilities - language
and musical aptitude for consonants, and musical aptitude and musical
memory for tones. It is concluded that tone perception is language
dependent and strongly influenced by musical expertise - musical apitude
and musical memory, not musical training as such.

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