Published online by Cambridge University Press: 31 July 2012
The current study examined five- and seven-year-old Mandarin-speaking children's processing of lexical tones in relation to speech segments by varying onset and rime in an oddity task (onset±rime±). Results showed that children experienced more difficulty in lexical tone oddity judgment when rimes differed across monosyllables (e.g. onset+rime−) than when onsets differed (e.g. onset−rime+). This finding suggests that vowels interfere more than consonants in lexical tone processing. Seven-year-olds consistently outperformed five-year-olds, suggesting that the growth of metalinguistic awareness and literacy exposure may play a joint role in the development of lexical tone processing skills.
This study was supported by an NSF EAPSI fellowship (OISE-0913126) to the first author and an NIH/NICHD grant (R01HD048438) to the second author. We thank the editor, Dr Heike Behrens, two anonymous reviewers and the action editor for their valuable comments and suggestions. We would like to thank the teachers and parents from the kindergartens in Beijing and elementary schools in Baoding for their warm support and the children for their active participation. We also thank Han Wu, Chu Chu Li, Wei Zhou and Yajing Zhang.
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