Introduction to Psycholinguistics

Abstract on Bilingual Tonal Processing

There are a lot of literature that surrounds the bilingual recognition of the spoken word in line with the bilinguals of those non-tonal kind of languages. In terms of the Mandarin spoken word aspect of recognizing literature, the element of lexical tones has been observed rather considerably to be an equally significant segment of lexical processing. It’s not very clear whether and how these lexical tones would contribute to the bilingual processing of languages. A recent demonstration shows that tonal bilinguals need the presence of tonal and also segmental information for inducing cross-language kind of lexical competition at the bilingual access. This occurs with no phonological overlap occurring between the targeted and non-targeted language. This study seeks to investigate if overt phonological overlap exist between the target and also the non-target language in an equal tonal and segmental information that induces cross-language lexical kind of competition. Different lexical decision experiments would be employed in this discussion where both Mandarin-English bilinguals and monolinguals would test if inter-lingual homophones would attract lexical competition from a non-targeted language (Litton, Rosenblatt, Pugh & Hu, 2018). The results here would represent an element of cross-language lexical competition that has lexical tones and also segmental overlaps.

Introduction to Bilingual Tonal Processing

The spoken word recognition domain has since recognize various kinds of auditory stimulus. This process is described as the procedure of matching that spoken word input with other mental representations together alongside word candidates. The efforts involved would then be the selection of the preferred candidate who will be activated with the least partial consistency to input. Spoken word recognition theories centers on the debate about sensory inputs which serve in activating lexical representations on the way with which spoken word is acknowledged and the account set for competition amongst lexical access and selection candidates. This is what will shape the prevailing considerable evidence that reveal where these words reside within scarce phonological neighborhoods. Many distinctions would further reveal the way with which lexical processor ought to interpret the unfolding sensory inputs by inhibiting the process of activating non-targeted candidates (Morett, 2020). This inhibiting effect is needed for a successful spoken word recognition process given the issues of bilingualism to understand the way with which bilinguals recognize works and sound similar to these words.


This study seeks to investigate the perceptions and also production of a particular metaphoric gesture type mimicking melody in speeches. This is also referred to as pitch gesture. Up to 106 participants that had no past Chinese language knowledge were needed to do an observation and production of pitch gestures at shortened multimodal session on both the tones and words (Liu & Kager, 2018).

The experiment was done on tone identification and word learning. The results would then reveal positive effects of training sessions where the pitch gesture observation would be compared to training sessions. The significance of producing such gestures would further be compared with the kind of observations done while repeating all these words aloud.

There are several comparisons that were done on the results of these experiments that showed significant differences that existed between simple observations and also pitch gestures while producing speech that had pitch gestures bearing lexical identity of tones and also word learning (Wu, et al., 2019). These two perceptions then represented the ability to produce various tasks about pitch gestures that may be seen as beneficial in the strategies of learning for the initial stages of tone acquisition within the classroom.

A relatively lesser experimental work occurred that revealed the likely beneficial impacts of pitch gestures especially on various tones and words with under a single tonal language. Pitch gestures have been reported commonly within the classroom that reveals a lot of variability on the gesturing space meant for allowing more and equally lesser ample pitch movements. The articulators utilized in performing pitch gestures have further been brought into study in a bid to determine the overall simple head movement. Such gestures had the spatial metaphor that described pitch would certainly remain as one.

  • Hypothesis

According to the present study, the initial attempt would be that comparison of the effects of observation versus the production of pitch gestures within the first learning of these tones and many other lexical items in Mandarin Chinese. The initial aim here was to enhance the debate that embodies cognition through the exploration of respective roles aimed at the observation and production of such gestures (Liu, Varghese & Weidemann, 2019). The second aspect occurred on a more practical degree where we seek to determine the merits of pedagogical kind of approach aimed at instructing lexical kind of tones to learners of these Mandarin Chinese language.

  • Procedure

The procedure involved here include the session of learning the tone where participants have been asked to complete various tasks of identifying the lexical tones. This occurs after a session of training in vocabularies. A task of recalling the meaning of words and also the association of word meaning tasks would be completed first. Judging by previous findings, it is significant to predict that the observation of pitch gestures may offer greater benefits especially for tone and also word learning instead of observing them (Liu, Varghese & Weidemann, 2019). The other objective would involve enacting literature and embodying learning through predicting the various benefits of offering pitch gestures with greater benefits instead of simply observing them.

  • Materials

This experiment has three phases with the initial one involving familiarization stage that has seen the introduction of information using Mandarin tones. The next would be the consecutive training session that lays more focus on the tones and vocabulary items. Finally, the last stage would be the correspondence test task. This could be explained with various subsections and audiovisual stimuli that had been prepared for utilizing training sessions and other auditory items that had been pre-recorded using tone identification and the recalling and association duty of the meaning of words.

  • Tone identification task

Once familiarization has been undertaken, the participants would be trained on how to discriminate especially between such Mandarin Chinese lexical tones. The training of tone video had a total of 18 units where everyone had a pair of target tones. Under each unit too, the participants became exposed to the same sequence. Participants interacted with different target pairs of tones that had to be discriminated. That orthographic Mandarin words form further had different tone marks. Finally, different video clips of words were produced by the instructor.

Upon viewing the training video, various participants then sought to complete various tone identification tasks by listening to audio-only items. These participants then became instructed to listen to each syllable after writing down what they had heard with the right tone mark. These individuals managed to listen to syllables up to once. Once they completed writing their solutions, they moved on to the next screen just to listen to the next syllable. Once all the answers were coded as 0, they then meant that the incorrect ones no matter the orthographic form was written by these participants (Wu, et al., 2019).

Results of Bilingual Tonal Processing

Evidently, tonal languages such as Mandarin Chinese and other into-national languages such as English utilize pitch variations simply at the exact level of the word. This brings up the aspect of lexical tone contrasts that seek to distinguish various descriptions between the segmentally similar words. For those speakers of non-tonal languages, the acquisition of such lexical tones has emerged as specifically difficult. No matter the intrinsic difficulty, a lot of evidence exist about speakers of tonal and non-tonal languages getting trained with success in perception and production of tonal systems (Ortega-Llebaria & Wu, 2020).

As per the lab research results, learners of non-tonal languages may be successfully trained to discriminate some Mandarin tones through the use of short auditory tone training processes that have paired ability of combining the tones of words. Both these perceptions and production tend to reflect the significance of specificity in these practices within the learning of tones. The sense here would be conducting training in perception to various production that leads to the right progress in that skill area. It has also been found out that training sessions allows participants of Mandarin tone words to perceive various conditions and to further attain the best results in different post tasks. Participants may also be trained in the production conditions that allows them to get improved results in post task production.

In line to learning novel tonal category, the study found out that gaining access to visual inform of facial articulators may attract beneficial impacts on tone perceptions for both tonal-language speakers of native languages that test the visual information of perception of tones. This is the typological impact of diverse languages. Tone discrimination test may be done using audio only (AO) or audiovisual (AV) or even visual only (VO) conditions that reflect an important rise in tone perceptions under auditory and visual information becoming displayed at a go. Both the eyebrow and visible movements of body parts such as the head, neck or the mouth have in some instances played very beneficial roles in perceiving such lexical tones (Ortega-Llebaria & Wu, 2020).

Conclusion and Recommendations on Bilingual Tonal Processing

In summary, the challenge with educational research still goes a long way in assessing the various procedures that serve in reinforcing various teaching of prosodic systems. This include the use of visualizers and gestures with the support of transcription systems. In this line, various support for visual illustrations have since depicted acoustic shapes of lexical tones that assist in facilitating such acquisitions (Wu, et al., 2019). A lot of future research should go to the acquisition of second languages since it appears that they have very positive effects in terms of observing the iconic gestures about learning various vocabularies with positive benefits being on various beat gestures of pronunciation and vocabulary learning. Not much is known for the supportive utilization of gestures about learning pitch modulations as a second language that have prospective distinctions between benefits of perceptions and production kind of practices. This study examined the roles of utilizing pitch gestures and other particular kinds of metaphoric gestures that mimicked the melody of a speech in the identification of tonal features while focusing on the likely benefits of observation versus that of producing different gestures in the pronunciation learning context. Pitch gestures has emerged as another metaphoric visuo-spatial signs where both the upward and also downward movement of hands would mimic the melodic pitch movement having a higher and lower frequency.

References for Bilingual Tonal Processing

Litton, H., Rosenblatt, M., Pugh, E., & Hu, J. (2018). Neural Pitch Coding in Multi-lingual Population: Language Effect.

Liu, L., & Kager, R. (2018). Monolingual and bilingual infants’ ability to use non-native tone for word learning deteriorates by the second year after birth. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 117.

Liu, L., Varghese, P., & Weidemann, G. (2019). A bilingual advantage in infant pitch processing. In Proceedings of the International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (pp. 1397-1401). International Phonetic Association.

Morett, L. M. (2020). The Influence of Tonal and Atonal Bilingualism on Children’s Lexical and Non-Lexical Tone Perception. Language and speech, 63(2), 221-241.

Ortega-Llebaria, M., & Wu, Z. (2020). Chinese-English Speakers’ Perception of Pitch in Their Non-Tonal Language: Reinterpreting English as a Tonal-Like Language. Language and Speech, 0023830919894606.

Singh, L., & Wewalaarachchi, T. D. (2020). Effects of age and bilingualism on sensitivity to native and nonnative tone variation: Evidence from spoken word recognition in Mandarin Chinese learners. Developmental psychology, 56(9), 1642.

Singh, L. (2020). Early word recognition and word learning in Mandarin learning children. In Speech Perception, Production and Acquisition (pp. 199-218). Springer, Singapore.

Wang, X., Hui, B., & Chen, S. (2020). Language selective or non-selective in bilingual lexical access? It depends on lexical tones!. PloS one, 15(3), e0230412.

Wewalaarachchi, T. D., Wong, L. H., & Singh, L. (2017). Vowels, consonants, and lexical tones: Sensitivity to phonological variation in monolingual Mandarin and bilingual English–Mandarin toddlers. Journal of experimental child psychology, 159, 16-33.

Wu, J., Chen, Y., van Heuven, V. J., & Schiller, N. O. (2019). Dynamic effect of tonal similarity in bilingual auditory lexical processing. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 34(5), 580-598.

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