Effects of L2 experience on Mandarin listeners’ perception of Korean politeness

Grace Eunhae Oh, Lucien Brown, Kaori Idemaru, Mao Cui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This paper is a socio-phonetic study into the ways that affective meanings, particularly those related to politeness, are perceived cross-culturally. Building on previous research [Brown et al., 2014], the present experiments investigated the perception of acoustic cues associated with politeness in Korean by two groups of Chinese listeners: naïve listeners and experienced learners. The aim of this study is two-fold: to assess whether second language (L2) learners can access acoustic information for a politeness-related social stance in the L2, and whether L2 experience can improve learners’ ability to attend to the relevant cues. In Experiment 1, randomly ordered isolated stimuli produced in either a deferential or an intimate context by native Korean speakers were judged by naïve Chinese listeners. Similar to English listeners in Brown et al. (2014), Chinese listeners’ overall accuracies were below chance level (52.8%). When the same stimuli were presented in a blocked by speaker design in Experiment 2, accuracies increased to 57.8% for naïve listeners and 62.5% for experienced listeners, indicating that language experience can facilitate the acquisition of the language-specific acoustic correlates of politeness. The implications of these findings are discussed in light of the effects of L2 experience in immersion settings on the implicit learning of sociolinguistic knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103319
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • Perceptual cues
  • Politeness
  • Second language acquisition
  • Sociolinguistic knowledge

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