Native English Speakers’ Acquisition of Mandarin Vowels: From Perception and Production Perspectives

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dc.contributor.advisor Charters, H en
dc.contributor.advisor Brown, J en Zhu, Wenhui en 2018-04-18T21:56:03Z en 2018 en
dc.identifier.uri en
dc.description.abstract This thesis investigates the perception and production of Mandarin high and mid vowels: [i], [u], [y], [ɤ], [ɹ̪] and [ɻ] in dental, retroflex and palatal fricative and affricate contexts by adult NZE native-speakers. It is found that factors, such as L1 transfer, L2 experience and markedness all influence the perception and production of target Mandarin vowels by learners. The perceptual categorization of target vowels is assessed with a cross-language perceptual mapping task by 11 naïve speakers of NZE; the perceptual identification and discrimination of target vowels are examined with an identification task completed by 19 learners with medium or low Mandarin experience. The results of the two tasks indicate that the way two Mandarin vowels are categorized into NZE vowels determines the perceptual discrimination between the two Mandarin vowels by learners exactly as the Perceptual Assimilation Model (PAM) (Best, 1995; Best & Tyler, 2007) predicts. Mandarin [i] is assimilated as a good instance to the NZE category /i/, while Mandarin [y] and [u] are both assimilated as only fair instances to the NZE category /u/. This leads to a high level of inaccuracy in discrimination by learners for the Mandarin contrast [u]-[y], but not for [i]-[u] or [i]-[y]. The three mid vowels [ɤ], [ɹ̪] and [ɻ] are not categorized into any NZE vowel category, the discriminations between two uncategorized vowels [ɤ] and [ɹ̪], [ɤ] and [ɻ] are difficult, but learners can easily discriminate [ɹ̪] from [ɻ]. This is probably because [ɹ̪] and [ɻ] are in complementary distribution and their preceding consonants may provide additional clues for learners to tell them apart. L2 experience plays a significant role in the perceptual identification accuracy for vowels [y], [u], [ɤ] but not for [i] as the Speech Learning Model (SLM) (Flege, 1995) predicts. SLM proposes that L2 experience has a more obvious effect on L2 sounds which are perceptually less similar to L1 sounds than L2 sounds which are perceptually more similar to L1 sounds. Vowels [y], [u], [ɤ] with at best a fair fit are less similar vowels in SLM, [i] with a good fit is a more similar vowel in SLM. However, language experience does not play a significant role in the perception of the less similar vowels [ɹ̪] and [ɻ]. This can be explained by the high markedness of these two phones which delay the influence of L2 experience. The production of Mandarin vowels is assessed with interpretations by NS judges and an acoustic analysis. The interpretation indicates there is no significant difference in the production of target vowels by learners with more or less experience, however the acoustic analysis shows there are statistically significant acoustic differences in the production of all target vowels by learners with more or less experience of Mandarin; with the production by more advanced learners being closer to Native speaker targets. Although there is a significant correlation between the overall perception and production for all target vowels and all learners, there is no consistent and statistically significant relationship between the perception and production of each target vowel and each learner. en
dc.publisher ResearchSpace@Auckland en
dc.relation.ispartof PhD Thesis - University of Auckland en
dc.relation.isreferencedby UoA99265045911102091 en
dc.rights Items in ResearchSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. Previously published items are made available in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. en
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dc.title Native English Speakers’ Acquisition of Mandarin Vowels: From Perception and Production Perspectives en
dc.type Thesis en Linguistics en The University of Auckland en Doctoral en PhD en
dc.rights.holder Copyright: The author en
dc.rights.accessrights en
pubs.elements-id 737174 en
pubs.record-created-at-source-date 2018-04-19 en

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