Eng · 繁體 · 简体

News & Events

 News & Events Home
 News and Events Archive
Modeling Tone Acquisition
Jump To:
Topic:  Modeling Tone Acquisition
posted itemPosted - 03/05/2001 :  14:32:56
Department of Chinese, Translation & Linguistics & Institute of Chinese Linguistics Joint Seminar Modeling Tone Acquisition By Professor Jane TSAY National Chung Cheng University Time: 4:30 - 6:00 pm Date: Friday, 11 May 2001 Venue: Room P4909, Academic Builiding, CityU Abstract Tone theories based on binary articulator-based features (e.g. Yip 1980, Bao 1990, Duanmu 1990) divide tone levels into universal categories that should be respected by children learning a tone system. For example, Yip (1980) would predict that the adjacent middle tones in a four-level tone system cannot form a natural class, since they are represented with distinct features (i. e. [+upper, -raised] vs. [-upper, +raised]). Moreover, in a three-level tone system, the representation of the mid tone is ambiguous. Theories like Yip's also predict that four-level tone systems should be as natural and easy to learn as three-level tone systems, since both require the same number of binary tone features to represent. By contrast, we hypothesize that lexical tone should be represented by a multi-valued tone feature based on the psychoacoustic properties of pitch (following Tsay 1994). This hypothesis makes at least two predictions regarding tone acquisition. First, the more tone levels a language has, the more difficult it is to learn, due to constraints of perception and memory. Second, acoustically adjacent tones should act as natural classes in language acquisition. To make our predictions more concrete, we built two connectionist models, using the tlearn software by Plunkett and Elman (1997). The first network was to test the learning rate for two-, three-, and four-tone (level) systems, respectively, using artificial data. The results showed that learning a two-tone system was easier than learning a three-tone system, both being much easier than learning a four-tone system. This is consistent with Maddieson (1978) who found in a random sample of tone systems, as the number of tone levels increases, the number of languages decreases. The second network was trained using data based on pitch extractions of real adult productions of Taiwanese syllables. As expected, the model was more likely to confuse acoustically adjacent tones: H was often confused with M but very rarely with L, L showed the opposite pattern, and M was often confused with both. These results are consistent with longitudinal data (2;1-2;3) of children acquiring Taiwanese as their first language (TAICORP, in preparation). About the Speaker: Professor Jane Tsay obtained her doctoral degree in Linguistics from the University of Arizona specializing in the phonology of tone. Her recent research has been concerned with the syntax-phonology interface, as well as phonological and morphological development in children, with special reference to classifiers and tone sandhi in Taiwanese. She is currently Associate Professor at the Graduate Institute of Linguistics, National Chung Cheng University. Enquiries: 2788-8705 ___________________ All are welcome! ____________________


Enquiry: LTenquiry@cityu.edu.hk