Initial tones and prominence in Seoul Korean

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Ohio State University. Department of Linguistics

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The present paper reports on an investigation of the informal observation that Seoul Korean nouns have an initial prominence and often have an initial prominence entirely due to an initial intonational prominence, or could other aspects of the signal be involved? Second, are initial tones best considered pitch accents (prominence-lending tones associated with a particular syllable) or are they better seen as phrase tones (markers of the edge of a prosodic group) Two subjects recited various sentences at different rates with different levels of overall emphasis. Word initial syllables are not longer than their medial counterparts; the only durational lengthening found is the consonant initial to the phrase. F0 measurements on initial nouns of various lengths suggests that initial high tones are underlyingly always present, but are obscured in short noun phrases by a following, phrase final tonal prominence. These results suggest that Korean nouns do not have initial stress, but rather occur in prosodic phrases which are marked in part by an initial high tone




Working Papers in Linguistics, no. 43 (1994), 1-14.