March 27, 2020

MA Thesis Defence - Xizi Deng

MA Linguistics candidate Xizi Deng will be defending their thesis early next month. Deng's thesis is titled "Processing Tone and Vowel Information in Mandarin: An Eye-tracking Study of Contextual Effects on Speech Processing". 

Date:             Monday, April 6, 2020
Time:            10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Location:     via teleconference; no public attendance


Prior work has suggested that rime (vowel) information is given priority over tone information in perception of isolated words. Here, I examined the eye gaze of native listeners of Mandarin Chinese, asking when and how top-down contextual effects from hearing a noun classifier constrains real-time processing of a target noun, and whether this classifier context has differential impacts on activating tone and rime information. The results show that, when hearing the classifier, average looking time to the target noun and noun competitors with the same tone or rime was significantly greater than to phonologically unrelated nouns. Moreover, fixations to the target were significantly greater to the phonological competitors only in a high-constraint classifier context. In addition, there was more distraction from a tone competitor than a rime competitor only in the high-constraint context. Results suggest that segmental and lexical tone perception follow different perceptual processes, and that tone was predicted ahead of rime when perceiving spoken words in context.

Key words:  Spoken word recognition; contextual effects; eye-tracking; Mandarin Chinese

Members of Examining Committee:

Chair:  Dr. Suzanne Hilgendorf
Senior Supervisor: Dr. Henny Yeung
Supervisor: Dr. John Alderete
Supervisor:  Dr. Ashley Farris-Trimble
External Examiner: Dr. Philip Monahan, University of Toronto