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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 31  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 66-71

Categorical perception of pitch: Influence of language tone, linguistic meaning, and pitch contour


1 Department of Audiology, Jagadguru Sri Shivarathreeswara Institute of Speech and Hearing, University of Mysore, Mysore, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Speech and Hearing, Jagadguru Sri Shivarathreeswara Institute of Speech and Hearing, University of Mysore, Mysore, Karnataka, India
3 Department of Speech and Hearing, Faculty of Engineering and Environment, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ, United Kingdom

Correspondence Address:
Saransh Jain
Department of Audiology, Jagadguru Sri Shivarathreeswara Institute of Speech and Hearing, University of Mysore, M.G. Road, Mysore - 570 004, Karnataka
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jisha.JISHA_24_17

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Introduction: Pitch is important for perception of speech. It is an imperative acoustic cue for differentiating gender, age, emotion and culture, etc. In certain languages, pitch also changes the linguistic meaning of the word. Mandarin, Cantonese, Thai, etc. (tonal languages) are few such languages where the pitch contour varies the meaning of the word. Researchers reported that language tone and pitch contour influence the pitch perception, but the results were inconclusive. The role of linguistic meaning was also sparsely investigated in the context of pitch perception. Thus, the present study was designed to assess the influence of language tone, linguistic meaning, and pitch contour on the perception of pitch. Methods: Fifty adult Mandarin and Kannada speaking individuals were selected, and their pitch perception abilities were measured using a 15-step categorical perception paradigm. The stimuli were Mandarin meaningful and nonmeaningful syllables varying in their pitch contour from rising to falling fundamental frequency in one set and falling to rising fundamental frequency in another set of continuum. Results: Univariate ANOVA was used to compare the effect of language background, linguistic meaning, and pitch contour on the perception of pitch. Results indicate no significant effect of linguistic background (P > 0.05) and linguistic meaning (P > 0.05), but the mean values were significantly different across pitch contour (P = 0.001). Conclusion: The language tone and linguistic meaning have no significant influence on the pitch perception, but the categorical boundary was wider for Kannada language participants and for nonmeaningful stimuli. Pitch contour significantly affects the perception of pitch. There are differential perceptual processes which are dependent on the native languages.


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