Role of Auditory Feedback in Mandarin Tone Production in Native and Non-Native Speakers
The current study examines the role of auditory feedback in Mandarin tone production among native and non-native speakers of Chinese through two production tasks where participants are asked to read and pronounce pseudo-words that share characteristics with Mandarin words. Every participant was tested in both tasks, with and without auditory feedback. In the Tonal Pseudo-word Task, participants are asked to read nonsensical Mandarin words with consonants and vowels shared in English. In the Lexical Pseudo-word Task, participants read nonsensical pseudo-mandarin words without tonal markings and were asked not to worry about the tones. The tones produced were masked by a low-band filter as using Praat and judged independently by native Chinese speakers for accuracy. The quality of the consonants and vowels that are unique to Mandarin were evaluated by experts’ judgment. The design of the study was based in part on earlier studies of the role of auditory feedback in singing tunes from memory (Erdemir and Rieser, 2016; Beck, Rieser, and Erdemir, 2017), which showed that expert musicians depended less on accurate tone production than did non-musicians. The goal of the present study is to find out if native Mandarin speakers rely less on auditory feedback than college students who are studying Mandarin. Results showed that non-native speakers are significantly more affected than native speakers and that non-native speakers find the tonal task more challenging than the unfamiliar phoneme task. The original hypothesis that native speaker of a tonal language, comparable to expert singer, has better motor representation of tone production so that they are resilient to the deprivation of auditory feedback.