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Interlingual two-to-one mapping of tonal categories*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 May 2016

Dept. Chinese Language and Literature, East China Normal University Leiden University Centre for Linguistics Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition
Leiden University Centre for Linguistics Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition
Leiden University Centre for Linguistics Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition Dept. Applied Linguistics, University of Pannonia
Leiden University Centre for Linguistics Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition
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Both Standard Chinese (SC) high- and low-rising tones sound like the rising tone in Jinan Mandarin (JM) Chinese. Acoustically (Experiment 1), the JM rising tone overlaps with both SC rising tones, but more with the high-rising tone than with the low-rising tone. Perceptually (Experiment 2), the JM rising tone was more likely identified as the SC high-rising tone by SC monolinguals. Experiment 3 examined the role of this two-to-one interlingual tonal mapping in bilingual lexical access. Final high-rising SC pseudo-words were more frequently and more quickly accepted as JM real words than final low-rising SC pseudo-words were. However, both high- and low-rising SC pseudo-words triggered equivalent facilitatory semantic priming on JM real-word targets. The results suggest that different tones are represented in the bilinguals’ mental lexicon in terms of fine-grained and sometimes overlapping acoustic specifications. Lexical activation and semantic activation are partially independent.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016 

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We would like to thank Prof. Xiufang Du, Prof. Jiangping Kong, Dr. Zihe Li, Dr. Honglin Cao for the recruitment of participants and providing spaces for the experiments. We also would like to thank Martijn Wieling and Jacolien van Rij for their advice on statistics. J. Wu's work was supported by a PhD Scholarship sponsored by Talent and Training China-Netherlands Program and by “Chenguang Program” supported by Shanghai Education Development Foundation and Shanghai Municipal Education Commission. We would like to thank the support to Yiya Chen from the European Research Council (ERC-Starting Grant 206198). The field trip was sponsored by the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics. We thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.


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