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Academic Paper


Title: The processing of lexical tones by young Chinese children
Author: Candise Y. Lin
Institution: University of Maryland
Author: Min Wang
Institution: University of Maryland
Author: Hua Shu
Institution: Beijing Normal University
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Phonology; Psycholinguistics
Subject Language: Chinese, Mandarin
Abstract: 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.

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This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 40, Issue 4, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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