Generating Tonal Distinctions in Mandarin Chinese Using an Electrolarynx with Preprogrammed Tone Patterns

Speech Commun. 2016 Apr 1:78:34-41. doi: 10.1016/j.specom.2016.01.002.

Abstract

An electrolarynx (EL) is a valuable rehabilitative option for individuals who have undergone laryngectomy, but current monotone ELs do not support controlled variations in fundamental frequency for producing tonal languages. The present study examined the production and perception of Mandarin Chinese using a customized hand-held EL driven by computer software to generate tonal distinctions (tonal EL). Four native Mandarin speakers were trained to articulate their speech coincidentally with preprogrammed tonal patterns in order to produce mono- and di-syllabic words with a monotone EL and tonal EL. Three native Mandarin speakers later transcribed and rated the speech samples for intelligibility and acceptability. Results indicated that words produced using the tonal EL were significantly more intelligible and acceptable than those produced using the monotone EL.

Keywords: Mandarin Chinese; electrolarynx; speech intelligibility; tonal control.