ESSV Konferenz Elektronische Sprachsignalverarbeitung

Title: A Preliminary Investigation of Tense-Lax Contrast of German Vowels by Chinese Learners

Authors: Hongwei Ding, Oliver Jokisch


The tense-lax vowel contrast, which is present in German and English but not in Chinese, has been extensively studied in the cross linguistic phonetics for Chinese learners of English [1, 3]. Much research has been dedicated to the perception and production studies of Chinese speakers of English, but few studies focus on L2 learners of German vowels [2]. This study will carry out a preliminary investigation on the tense-lax contrast of German vowels of Chinese learners. The German vowel inventory consists of 14 distinctive monophthongs that include 7 tense-lax pairs, while Chinese vowel inventory does not distinguish tense-lax vowels. The template of Chinese tense-only vowels has been internalized and further becomes filters when native speakers of Chinese begin to acquire a foreign language. Consequently, Chinese learners might often tend to mispronounce lax vowels for tense counterparts or fail to distinguish tense/lax contrasts. This experiment has been carried our on the basis of Azar Trainer [5], an intelligent language tutoring system with multimodal feedback functions. Firstly a perception experiment examined Chinese learners’ German vowel discrimination. Pairs of vowels were embedded in carrier words, these speech stimuli were produced by a German native speaker, which is taken as the standard pronunciation in the tutoring system. 12 Chinese learners were asked to identify whether the vowels in the words were long or short vowels. Secondly these 12 Chinese learners were required to read the carrier words in pairs. Results of both perception and production experiments are discussed and improvements for the tutoring system and for further investigations are suggested.

Year: 2012
In session: Sprachwissenschaft und Phonetik
Pages: 153 to 158