ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2014, Vol. 46 ›› Issue (9): 1223-1231.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2014.01223

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Effects of Vowels on Mandarin Tone Categorical Perception

ZHENG Qiuchen   

  1. (Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages, the Chinese University of Hong Kong; Department of Chinese and Bilingual Studies, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, China )
  • Received:2013-10-10 Published:2014-09-25 Online:2014-09-25
  • Contact: ZHENG Qiuchen, E-mail:


Sounds are physically continuous but linguistic phonemes are discrete and limited. Categorical Perception (CP) offers a useful approach to address this mismatching issue between the physical and perceptional features of speech. It is well established that consonants are perceived categorically, while vowels are perceived continuously. Earlier studies showed that the speech CP was restricted to segmental features. However, as Abramson (1961) firstly pointed out that CP mode could be applicable to the suprasegments. His limited investigation revealed that tone perception in Thai is categorical. Likewise, a similar result has been confirmed by Wang (1976) that the perception of Mandarin tones is also categorical, in the sense that native Chinese speakers have a linguistic boundary when perceiving the tones. The studies was based on a synthesized acoustic continuum, which was superimposed on vowel /i/, consisting of 11 tonal variants from Mandarin Tone 2 (yi2 ‘aunt’) to Tone 1 (yi1 ‘clothing’). There is still no conclusion that what effect vowels have on the boundary of tonal perception. Regarding this, current study is to address this issue....

Key words: tone, categorical perception, intrinsic pitch, continuum, vowels