14th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-14)

San Francisco, CA, USA
August 1-7, 1999


The Perception of English Tense-Lax Vowel Pairs by Native Mandarin Speakers: The Effect of Training on Attention to Temporal and Spectral Cues

Xinchun Wang, Murray J. Munro

Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada

Fourteen adult native speakers of Mandarin identified synthesized English /hid/-/hɪd/ and /hud/-/hʊd/ continua that differed in 6 equal spectral and temporal steps. Pretests were followed by short training sessions (using the extreme tokens of the same two continua) which were followed immediately by posttests. A comparison group of 14 native speakers of English also participated and took the pretests only. The results showed that the majority of the Mandarin listeners relied heavily and consistently on the duration cues for the / i/-/ɪ/ but not the /u/-/ʊ/ distinction in the pretests. In the posttests, the Mandarin listeners' perceptual performance on both continua was comparable to that of the English speakers, indicating that training effectively shifted the Mandarin listeners' attention from the duration differences to the spectral differences.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Wang, Xinchun / Munro, Murray J. (1999): "The perception of English tense-lax vowel pairs by native Mandarin speakers: the effect of training on attention to temporal and spectral cues", In ICPhS-14, 125-128.