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The effect of phonetic variation on word recognition in Taiwan Mandarin
phonetic variation,word recognition,variant frequency,social connotation,speaker information,Taiwan Mandarin,
|Publication Year :||2017|
This study investigated how phonetic variation in Taiwan Mandarin affected word recognition of native listeners. Two onset sibilant and three final nasal variations were examined, including deretroflexion, retroflexion, /in/→[iŋ], /iŋ/→[in], and /əŋ/→[ən]. The discrepancy between the two sibilant variations lies in variant frequency, with deretroflexion occurring much more frequently than retroflexion in the language, whereas the three nasal variations differ in social connotation: /in/→[iŋ] is deemed fairly positive, /əŋ/→[ən] is relatively neutral, and /iŋ/→[in] is the most negative. Experiment 1 examined the effect of phonetic variation on written word recognition using a cross-modal form priming paradigm. Auditory primes with either canonical or variant realizations were followed by visual target presentation of the same word, on which listeners performed lexical decision. There were in total 108 native listeners tested. Results showed that for all variations, variant realizations induced comparable priming effects as canonical ones. Experiment 2 investigated how variant pronunciation impacted on spoken word recognition. An auditory form priming design was adopted, in which both primes and targets were presented auditorily. A total of 240 native listeners participated in this experiment. Similar to Experiment 1, the priming effects of both variant and canonical realizations were found comparable. However, the two forms were processed differently in immediate spoken word recognition. In particular, processing efficiency was determined by a given form’s social connotation to a large extent, as socially ideal forms were always better recognized than socially disfavored ones. In addition, variation processing was also subject to variant frequency, although its role seemed to be less decisive and more obscure than that of social connotation.
The second part of this study was devoted to exploring whether the integration of speaker information would alter the processing consequence of variant realizations. Speaker information was embedded in visual primes in Experiment 3, where face photographs of different speakers were presented to listeners before lexical decision on spoken words was performed. One sibilant onset variation (deretroflexion) and one final nasal variation (/in/→[iŋ]) were examined, and in total 136 native listeners were tested. Lexical recognition results showed that in general, congruent speaker information facilitated variation processing while incongruent information impeded it, but the effect was however moderate and variation-dependent. Experiment 4 used auditory primes to present speaker information, in which listeners heard sentence contexts uttered in different accents before spoken target words. This experiment focused on deretroflexion, and 64 native listeners were recruited for participation. Evidence of speaker information integration was again observed, as recognition results changed according to speaker accent primes. Nevertheless, dissimilar to Experiment 3, the magnitude of processing changes was much more prominent, an effect so robust that it even overrode the effect of social connotation revealed in Experiment 2. This study thus demonstrated that phonetic variation in Taiwan Mandarin has a multi-faceted effect on lexical processing, which not only bears an intimate relationship with the intrinsic characteristics of variations but also involves dynamic and complex interactions with a variety of linguistic and indexical factors.
|Appears in Collections:||語言學研究所|
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