Encoding lexical tones in jTRACE: A simulation of monosyllabic word recognition in Mandarin Chinese
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Description: In this study, we present a modified version of the jTRACE model in which we borrowed on its existing architecture to code for Mandarin phonemes and tones. Units are coded in a way that is meant to capture the similarity in timing of access to vowel and tone information that has been observed in previous studies of Mandarin spoken word recognition. We validated the model by first simulating a recent experiment that had used the visual world paradigm to investigate how native Mandarin speakers process monosyllabic Mandarin words (Malins & Joanisse, 2010). We then subsequently simulated two psycholinguistic phenomena: (1) differences in the timing of resolution of tonal contrast pairs, and (2) the interaction between syllable frequency and tonal probability. In all cases, the model gave rise to results comparable to those of published data with human subjects, suggesting that it is a viable working model of spoken word recognition in Mandarin. It is our hope that this tool will be of use to practitioners studying the psycholinguistics of Mandarin Chinese and will help inspire similar models for other tonal languages, such as Cantonese and Thai.