ERIC Number: EJ1131837
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Feb
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
Tone Attrition in Mandarin Speakers of Varying English Proficiency
Quam, Carolyn; Creel, Sarah C.
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, v60 n2 p293-305 Feb 2017
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine whether the degree of dominance of Mandarin-English bilinguals' languages affects phonetic processing of tone content in their native language, Mandarin. Method: We tested 72 Mandarin-English bilingual college students with a range of language-dominance profiles in the 2 languages and ages of acquisition of English. Participants viewed 2 photographs at a time while hearing a familiar Mandarin word referring to 1 photograph. The names of the 2 photographs diverged in tone, vowels, or both. Word recognition was evaluated using clicking accuracy, reaction times, and an online recognition measure (gaze) and was compared in the 3 conditions. Results: Relative proficiency in English was correlated with reduced word recognition success in tone-disambiguated trials, but not in vowel-disambiguated trials, across all 3 dependent measures. This selective attrition for tone content emerged even though all bilinguals had learned Mandarin from birth. Lengthy experience with English thus weakened tone use. Conclusions: This finding has implications for the question of the extent to which bilinguals' 2 phonetic systems interact. It suggests that bilinguals may not process pitch information language-specifically and that processing strategies from the dominant language may affect phonetic processing in the nondominant language--even when the latter was learned natively.
Descriptors: Bilingual Students, College Students, Language Dominance, Language Acquisition, Mandarin Chinese, English, Phonetics, Language Processing, Word Recognition, Correlation, Intonation, Tone Languages, Vowels, Audience Response Systems, Reaction Time, Eye Movements, Native Language
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Sponsor: National Institutes of Health (DHHS); National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: T32DC0004112|F32HD065382|K99R00DC013795|BCS1057080|BCS1230003