Perception and Production of Chinese Sounds by Non-native Speakers
(2,981 words)

1. Perception

1.1 Perception of lexical tones

There are four lexical tones in Mandarin. Tone 1 (ā) is high level, Tone 2 (á) low rising, Tone 3 (ǎ) mid-falling and rising, and Tone 4 (à) high falling. The major consensus of findings on Mandarin tone perception is that native tonal backgrounds help their speakers outperform those whose L1s are non-tonal, e.g., Cantonese speakers did much better than English speakers in discriminating Mandarin tone pairs (Y.-S. Lee et al. 1996). However, a tonal L1 seeme…

Cite this page
Bin LI and Jing SHAO, “Perception and Production of Chinese Sounds by Non-native Speakers”, in: Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics, General Editor Rint Sybesma. Consulted online on 23 February 2019 <>
First published online: 2015

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