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Within-category variance and lexical tone discrimination in native and non-native speakers

Hoffmann, C. W. G., Sadakata, M., Chen, A., Desain, P., & McQueen, J. M. (2014). Within-category variance and lexical tone discrimination in native and non-native speakers. In C. Gussenhoven, Y. Chen, & D. Dediu (Eds.), Proceedings of the 4th International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Language (pp. 45-49). Nijmegen: Radboud University Nijmegen.
In this paper, we show how acoustic variance within lexical tones in disyllabic Mandarin Chinese pseudowords affects discrimination abilities in both native and non-native speakers of Mandarin Chinese. Within-category acoustic variance did not hinder native speakers in discriminating between lexical tones, whereas it precludes Dutch native speakers from reaching native level performance. Furthermore, the influence of acoustic variance was not uniform but asymmetric, dependent on the presentation order of the lexical tones to be discriminated. An exploratory analysis using an active adaptive oddball paradigm was used to quantify the extent of the perceptual asymmetry. We discuss two possible mechanisms underlying this asymmetry and propose possible paradigms to investigate these mechanisms
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