Native Mandarin Speakers' Production of English Fricatives as a Function of Linguistic Task Type and Word Position: A Spectral Moment Analysis

Lindsey McCall Wing, Brigham Young University - Provo


The purpose of this study was to analyze the phonetic production of fricatives across differing word positions and task types. Further knowledge about the fricative production of second language learners of English would potentially improve the ability to teach correct pronunciation and improve the productivity of second language programs. All participants in this study were native speakers of Mandarin Chinese with English as their second language. A total of 12 subjects participated, all of whom had English proficiency ratings ranging from novice to advanced. The speakers were between 21-51 years of age, with each speaker having between 2 to 6 years of experience learning English in their country of origin. Using acoustic and spectral moment analyses, the acoustic nature of four types of fricative productions (/f/, /θ/, /s/, and /ʃ/) were analyzed as a function of linguistic task type and word position. Although a number of measures were found to differ significantly as a function of word position and task type, the majority of statistical analyses were not found to be significant. This lack of significance may be due to the specific methodology used, the speakers’ atypical voicing patterns, and/or decreased length of sound productions. Findings of this study may indicate that second language learners’ production of fricatives vary minimally across differing word positions and task types.