Production–perception link in L1 Cantonese tones (Mok et al., 2019)

Purpose: Previous studies showed early production precedes late perception in Cantonese tone acquisition, contrary to the general principle that perception precedes production in child language. How tone production and perception are linked in 1st language acquisition remains largely unknown. Our study revisited the acquisition of tone in Cantonese-speaking children, exploring the possible link between production and perception in 1st language acquisition.
Method: One hundred eleven Cantonese-speaking children aged between 2;0 and 6;0 (years;months) and 10 adolescent reference speakers participated in tone production and perception experiments. Production materials with 30 monosyllabic words were transcribed in filtered and unfiltered conditions by 2 native judges. Perception accuracy was based on a 2-alternative forced-choice task with pictures covering all possible tone pair contrasts.
Results: Children’s accuracy of production and perception of all the 6 Cantonese tones was still not adultlike by age 6;0. Both production and perception accuracies matured with age. A weak positive link was found between the 2 accuracies. Mother’s native language contributed to children’s production accuracy.
Conclusions: Our findings show that production and perception abilities are associated in tone acquisition. Further study is needed to explore factors affecting production accuracy in children.

Supplemental Material S1.
One-sample t tests for Table 2 (production).
Multiple comparisons with Bonferroni corrections on perception accuracy of individual tone pairs in Figure 4 (summary and full details).

Mok, P. P. K., Fung, H. S. H., & Li, V. G. (2019). Assessing the link between perception and production in Cantonese tone acquisition. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 62, 1243–1257. https://doi.org/10.1044/2018_JSLHR-S-17-0430