Rongchao Tang

Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics



First Advisor

Naoko O Witzel


This dissertation investigates the automatic tonal processing in a second language (L2) and a first language (L1) during visual word recognition. Four experiments were conducted to examine -- (i) whether tonal information can be automatically processed in a similar manner in L2 learners and native speakers of Chinese (Experiments 1 and 2 in Chapter 2), and (ii) whether the processing of tonal information is influenced by the involvement of the production system during L1 and L2 visual word recognition (Experiments 3 and 4 in Chapter 3). Native speakers and L2 learners of Chinese were tested using a naming Stroop task in Chapter 2. The same population of participants was tested using a button-pushing Stroop task (i.e., in silent reading) in Chapter 3. The results indicated that native speakers can automatically process tonal information regardless of whether the production system was employed or not. L2 learners, however, seemed not be able to automatically use tonal information even when the task encouraged the use of phonological information as in the naming Stroop task. This was the case despite the fact that L2 learners were confirmed to have acquired explicit phonological knowledge of the experimental stimuli in a post test in Chapter 3. The results are interpreted as evidence for the differences of how phonological information, especially tonal information, is represented and/or processed in L1 and L2 visual word recognition systems.


L2 tonal processing, Stroop task, Visual word recognition


Linguistics | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

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