Proceedings of the Xth Conference, Helsinki 2008
Edited By Martti Vainio, Reijo Aulanko and Olli Aaltonen
23. Native and non-native identification of Norwegian word tones 237
NATIVE AND NON-NATIVE IDENTIFICATION OF NORWEGIAN WORD TONES Wim A. van Dommelen Olaf Husby 1 Introduction Norwegian is one of the few European languages with a tonal system to distinguish between lexical units (Fintoft, 1987; Kristoffersen, 2000). There are two tones, like in (/ 1 lo:vn/; the law) and (/2lo:vn/; the barn). Realization of the tonal contours varies between dialects, the two main types being so-called low-tone and high-tone dialects. In the former, the two tones are phonologically specified as LH for tone 1 and HLH for tone 2, whereas the latter has the mirror patterns HL and LHL, respectively. In this paper we investigate some aspects of the acquisition of Norwegian word tones by second language (L2) speakers. Since the L2 speakers involved were mainly exposed to the low-tone dialect of the Trøndelag area, the whole speech material of this study is of this type. For L2 users of a tonal language, acquisition of the tones is a special challenge. This applies in particular to speakers of a non-tonal language, as for example shown by Wang et al., (1999) for the identification of four Mandarin tones by native speakers of American English. In the pre-test condition of that study, listeners achieved rates of 67–69 % correct. But even speakers of tonal languages have been shown to encounter difficulties in the perception of tones in another tonal language, as was found by Wayland and Guion (2004) for the perception of Thai tones by native Chinese listeners....
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