Perception of Korean contrasts by Mandarin learners: The role of L2 proficiency

Na-Young Ryu


This paper investigates how Mandarin learners, whose native language has only a binary laryngeal contrast, acquire the Korean three-way laryngeal contrast in stops and affricates. Two perception experiments are reported with a focus on L2 language proficiency. The results reveal that most Mandarin learners do not reach the same level of perceptual discrimination accuracy as native speakers; however, advanced learners perceive contrasts more accurately than beginner and intermediate learners. In addition, Mandarin listeners are more successful at perceiving Korean aspirated stop and affricate contrasts compared to fortis and lenis regardless of L2 proficiency. Also, lenis is least likely to be differentiated perceptually by Mandarin listeners across all proficiency groups. This suggests that they lack attention to f0, which is the most relevant dimension for native Korean listeners to discriminate lenis from fortis and aspirated consonants.


Perception, Korean contrasts, Mandarin learners. L2 proficiency

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