Labial Position and Acoustics of Korean and English High Vowels
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Publisher:Ohio State University. Department of Linguistics
Citation:Working Papers in Linguistics, no. 43 (1994), 70-84.
This paper examines and contrasts the labial configuration and formant frequencies of Korean and English high vowels. Korean has three high vowels, /i, i, u/, and English has four, /i, I, U, u/. The lip gestures and formant frequencies were compared within each language and across languages to determine whether the idea of maximal dispersion (Liljencrants and Lindblom (1972)) can account for the distribution of formant frequencies and also be extended to account for the labial configurations. Four male speakers of each language produced each vowel in four different contexts with five repetitions. The production of each word was videotaped and the sound was simultaneously recorded. The lip configurations were assessed using measurements similar to those in Linker (1982) and MANOVA was performed on the measurement data. The formant values were converted to the Bark scale to better represent the perceptual distance. The results of formant frequencies show that the mean F2 values of English back vowels, /u, U/, are significantly higher than that of Korean back vowel, /u/, while the F2 means of /i/'s in both languages are almost the same. The fact that Korean high vowels take more spaces in F2 is contradictory to the prediction of dispersion theory. The same tendency is shown in the result of the labial measurements. That is, Korean /u/ is produced with more rounded and more protruded lips than English /u/, while /i/'s in both languages are produced with the same degree of lip opening even though Korean /i/ used more spread lips. However, if we consider vowels in the same height (similar values of mean F1), we can find the maximal dispersion theory could explain the result since English has only two high vowels, /i, u/, and Korean has three.
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