Abstract - Adult second language learners of Mandarin have to acquire new perceptual categories for discriminating and identifying lexical pitch variation along with new sensorimotor skills to produce the rapid tone changes.
Pitch-shift paradigm in which a short and artificial change in pitch is fed back to speakers during vocalization has been used to investigate how important sensory information affects the way we control our speech motor activities. Pitch-shift responses (vocal responses to auditory perturbation) have reflex-like properties and are hard to suppress. So Pitch-shift paradigm can be used to understand the stability of internal models and to reveal how internalized pitch representations are built or reshaped.
In this talk, I will present two studies that look at perception and pitch-shift responses comparing naïve speakers (who have never been exposed to Mandarin), trained vocalists, L2 learners of Mandarin and Mandarin speakers. Group differences were found in F0 contour shape in response to pitch-shift stimuli. F0 contours of Mandarin speakers were least affected by pitch-shift amplitude or pitch-shift direction, suggesting more stable internal tone perturbation in a high flat tone.