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Chinese and English Infants’ Tone Perception: Evidence for Perceptual Reorganization.

Mattock, Karen and Burnham, Denis (2006) Chinese and English Infants’ Tone Perception: Evidence for Perceptual Reorganization. Infancy, 10 (3). pp. 241-265. ISSN 1525-0008

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Over half the world’s population speaks a tone language, yet infant speech perception research has typically focused on consonants and vowels. Very young infants can discriminate a wide range of native and nonnative consonants and vowels, and then in a process of perceptual reorganization over the 1st year, discrimination of most nonnative speech sounds deteriorates. We investigated perceptual reorganization for tones by testing 6- and 9-month-old infants from tone (Chinese) and nontone (English) language environments for speech (lexical tone) and nonspeech (violin sound) tone discrimination in both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. Overall, Chinese infants performed equally well at 6 and 9 months for both speech and nonspeech tone discrimination. Conversely, English infants’ discrimination of lexical tone declined between 6 and 9 months of age, whereas their nonspeech tone discrimination remained constant. These results indicate that the reorganization of tone perception is a function of the native language environment, and that this reorganization is linguistically based.

Item Type: Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title: Infancy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Faculty of Science and Technology > Psychology
ID Code: 10978
Deposited By: Dr Karen J Mattock
Deposited On: 29 Jul 2008 13:45
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2018 01:58
Identification Number:

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