Volume 17, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1871-1340
  • E-ISSN: 1871-1375
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Previous research has shown that second language (L2) learners of Mandarin learn new words more easily if the new word is homophonous with a word they already know (Liu and Wiener, 2020). That research involved word learning in which speech was produced by a single-talker with a specific pitch range. The present study examines whether the observed tonal homophone advantage is dependent on familiarity with the talker. Adult learners of Mandarin Chinese as an L2 were taught 20 new tonal words for three consecutive days. To manipulate phonological familiarity, 10 words had homophones already known to the learners and 10 words did not. To manipulate talker familiarity, participants were trained on a single talker but tested on 16 new talkers or trained and tested on 16 (multi)-talkers. Daily testing involved a 4-alternative-force-choice task. Both groups showed increased accuracy and faster response times on Day 2 compared to Day 1, but this learning was independent of homophone status or talker group. No other effects were found. These results suggest that the tonal homophone advantage in L2 word learning observed by Liu and Wiener (2020) may have been partially driven by an exceptionally high level of talker familiarity, since that study used a single speaker both for training and testing.


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