Chinese subjects' perception of the word-final English /1/-/d/ contrast: Performance before and after training

Academic Article


  • Chinese words may begin with /t/ and /d/, but a /t/-/d/ contrast does not exist in word-final position. The question addressed by experiment 1 was whether Chinese speakers of English could identify the final stop in words like beat and bead. The Chinese subjects examined approached the near-perfect identification rates of native English adults and children for words that were unedited, but performed poorly for words from which final release bursts had been removed. Removing closure voicing had a small effect on the Chinese but not the English listeners' sensitivity. A regression analysis indicated that the Chinese subjects' native language (Mandarin, Taiwanese, Shanghainese) and their scores on an English comprehension test accounted for a significant amount of variance in sensitivity to the (burstless) /t/-/d/ contrast. In experiment 2, a small amount of feedback training administered to Chinese subjects led to a small, nonsignificant increase in sensitivity to the English /t/-/d/ contrast. In experiment 3, more training trials were presented for a smaller number of words. A slightly larger and significant effect of training was obtained. The Chinese subjects who were native speakers of a language that permits obstruents in word-final position seemed to benefit more from the training than those whose native language (L1) has no word-final obstruents. This was interpreted to mean that syllable-processing strategies established during L1acquisition may influence later L2 learning. © 1989, Acoustical Society of America. All rights reserved.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Flege JE
  • Start Page

  • 1684
  • End Page

  • 1697
  • Volume

  • 86
  • Issue

  • 5