Acquisition of pitch in Chinese by Danish learners

Marjoleine Sloos, Jie Liang, Mengzhu Yan, Chun Zhang

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperScientificpeer-review


Native speakers recognize a second language accent mainly by prosodic features. Pitch, pitch range, and pitch variability are language-specific and have to be acquired in L2 acquisition (usually without explicit teaching). Until now, results remain inconclusive as to whether L2 speakers are able to acquire a pitch range that is wider than their native pitch range. The present paper investigates the acquisition of mean pitch, pitch range, and pitch variability in Mandarin Chinese by native speakers of Danish. This is particularly interesting since Chinese uses a relatively wide pitch range whereas Danish has an extremely small pitch range. We show that Danish students can largely acquire the mean pitch and pitch range of Mandarin Chinese. However, the pitch variability of Danish-accented Chinese turned out to be considerably lower than native Chinese, which we tentatively attribute to a poor acquisition of tone.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Chinese
  • Danish
  • tone acquisition
  • pitch range
  • pitch variability


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