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Supralaryngeal implementation of length and laryngeal contrasts in Japanese and Korean

  • Alexei Kochetov (a1) and Yoonjung Kang (a2)


This article investigates supralaryngeal characteristics of Japanese and Korean length and laryngeal contrasts in stops and affricates. Electropalatography data collected from five Japanese and five Korean speakers revealed similar differences among the consonants in the degree of linguopalatal contact and duration of the closure. Japanese (voiceless) geminate and Korean fortis obstruents were most constricted and had the longest duration (although considerably longer in Japanese). Japanese voiced and Korean lenis obstruents were least constricted and had the shortest duration. Japanese voiceless (singleton) and Korean aspirated obstruents showed intermediate degree of contact and duration. Both stops and affricates showed a positive correlation between degree of contact and duration. The results show that the two very different sets of phonological contrasts are implemented similarly at the supralaryngeal level. These cross-language similarities and cross-category differences are proposed to result from the application of independently-motivated phonetic enhancement rules to distinct phonological representations of laryngeal/length contrasts in the two languages.

Cet article explore des propriétés supralaryngées de la durée en japonais et coréen et les contrastes laryngés des obstruantes et des affriquées. Les données recueillies par l’électropalatographie auprès de cinq locuteurs du japonais et cinq locuteurs du coréen révèlent des différences similaires parmi les consonnes concernant le degré de contact linguopalatal et la durée de la fermeture. Les géminées (non-voisées) du japonais et les obstruantes fortis du coréen présentent le plus de constriction et les durées les plus longues (la durée était sensiblement plus longue en japonais). Les obstruantes voisées du japonais et les obstruantes lenis du coréen présentent le moins de constriction et les durées les plus courtes. Les obstruantes non voisées (simples) du japonais et les obstruantes aspirées du coréen présentent des degrés intermédiaires de contact et de durée. Il existe une corrélation positive entre le degré de contact et la durée pour les obstruantes et les affriquées. Les résultats montrent que ces deux contrastes phonologiques distincts sont réalisés phonétiquement de façon similaire au niveau supralaryngé. Nous proposons que ces similarités interlinguistiques et ces différences intercatégorielles résultent de règles d'amélioration phonétique (indépendamment motivées) appliquées à des représentations phonologiques distinctes de contrastes laryngés/de durée dans les deux langues.


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This paper has benefited from many helpful comments and suggestions provided by the journal's anonymous reviewers and the audiences of our talks given at the International Conference on Phonology and Phonetics organized by the National Institute of Japanese Language & Linguistics, Tokyo, in January 2013, at the Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics Talks Series, York University, Toronto, in October 2013, and at the Institute for Phonetics and Linguistics, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, in May 2014. We would also like to thank Sohyun Hong, Vithangi Ramachandran, Na-Young Ryu, and Jacqueline Wong for assistance with data annotation and preparation for analysis. The work was supported by University of Toronto Connaught Matching Grants to both authors, as well as by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Standard Grant # 416-2010-0959 to Alexei Kochetov.



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Supralaryngeal implementation of length and laryngeal contrasts in Japanese and Korean

  • Alexei Kochetov (a1) and Yoonjung Kang (a2)


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