Ka Yan Margaret Lei
Language Acquisition Laboratory, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

ID 1620
[full paper]

This is an exploratory study on the perception of Cantonese tones in infants learning Hong Kong Cantonese as their native language. In the study, we examined whether infants at the ages of 6- to 8-months old possess the ability to discriminate level tones. Our findings revealed that infants were capable of discriminating at least some of the tonal contrasts in Cantonese. The results showed evidence for a possible relationship between the ease of tone discrimination and the degree of acoustic similarity between the tones. Among the three pairs of Cantonese level tones tested in our study, the pair having the greatest F0 difference, the high-level tone (T1) with the mid-low level tone (T6), was best discriminated as compared with the other two tone pairs which were acoustically closer in terms of F0 values.