15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-15)

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

Perception of Phonemic Length Contrasts in Japanese by Native and Non-Native Listeners

Keiichi Tajima (1), Hiroaki Kato (1), Amanda Rothwell (1), Kevin G. Munhall (2)

(1) ATR-HIS, Japan
(2) Queen's University, Canada

Native English listeners' perception of Japanese phonemic length contrasts was investigated using a minimal-pair identification task with Japanese words that differed by the length of a vowel or consonant, e.g., "haken"-"hakken". Identification accuracy was found to be higher for listeners with Japanese exposure than for unexposed listeners, and higher after five days of perceptual identification training than before. Even though listeners were trained to identify words containing vowel length contrasts only, accuracy improved for other length contrasts also. However, accuracy was relatively poor when the contrasts occurred in certain positions within the target word. In sum, while training improved English listeners' perceptual ability, a significant gap remained before they reached native-like performance.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Tajima, Keiichi / Kato, Hiroaki / Rothwell, Amanda / Munhall, Kevin G. (2003): "Perception of phonemic length contrasts in Japanese by native and non-native listeners", In ICPhS-15, 1585-1588.