Acoustic and aerodynamic correlates of Korean stops and fricatives

Cho, T., Jun, S.-A., & Ladefoged, P. (2002). Acoustic and aerodynamic correlates of Korean stops and fricatives. Journal of Phonetics, 30(2), 193-228. doi:10.1006/jpho.2001.0153.
This study examines acoustic and aerodynamic characteristics of consonants in standard Korean and in Cheju, an endangered Korean language. The focus is on the well-known three-way distinction among voiceless stops (i.e., lenis, fortis, aspirated) and the two-way distinction between the voiceless fricatives /s/ and /s*/. While such a typologically unusual contrast among voiceless stops has long drawn the attention of phoneticians and phonologists, there is no single work in the literature that discusses a body of data representing a relatively large number of speakers. This study reports a variety of acoustic and aerodynamic measures obtained from 12 Korean speakers (four speakers of Seoul Korean and eight speakers of Cheju). Results show that, in addition to findings similar to those reported by others, there are three crucial points worth noting. Firstly, lenis, fortis, and aspirated stops are systematically differentiated from each other by the voice quality of the following vowel. Secondly, these stops are also differentiated by aerodynamic mechanisms. The aspirated and fortis stops are similar in supralaryngeal articulation, but employ a different relation between intraoral pressure and flow. Thirdly, our study suggests that the fricative /s/ is better categorized as “lenis” rather than “aspirated”. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications of Korean data for theories of the voicing contrast and their phonological representations.
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