Non-glottalization in Korean Fortis Consonants

Wei-rong Chen


It is claimed that the three types of obstruent consonants in Korean (fortis/lenis/aspirated) are currently undergoing a diachronic change in articulation in that the differences in the voice onset time (VOT, in association with the degree of aspiration) is becoming not completely contrastive while the contrasts in pitch height (fundamental frequency) surface as a more reliable perceptual cue. Controversy still exists whether this change brings in concomitant modifications in other articulatory dimensions, especially the presence of glottalization, commonly used to manifest the notion of articulatory fortisness in the literature. The aim of this study is to examine whether the presence/ absence of glottalization holds in the contrast of fortis/ lenis consonants in the contemporary Korean language, by directly observing the glottal states via a trans-nasal fiberscope (laryngoscope). Our results elicited from Seoul subjects in younger generation of 30s show that the glottal constriction states of Korean fortis consonants exhibit no observable glottalization, in terms of the Six Valves of Throat Framework for sub-glottal reinforcements.

Keywords: Laryngoscope; Korean language; Glottalization; Fortis consonants

Résumé On a proposé que les trois types des consonnes obstruante du coréen (fortis/lenis/aspirées) sont en cours de changement diachronique de leur articulation. Les différences de délai de voisement (ou VOT), marquant différents degrés d’aspiration ne sont plus complètement contrastives, tandis que les différences de hauteur mélodique (F0) sont devenues des indices plus fiables en perception. Les opinions divergent sur la question de savoir si ce changement entraîne des modifications concominantes sur d’autres dimensions articulatoires, notamment la glottalisation, souvent considérée dans la littérature comme corrélat de l’articulation “fortis”. Notre étude vise à examiner si la présence/absence de glottalisation est maintenue dans le contraste fortis/lenis des occlusives du coréen contemporain, à l’aide de l’observation directe de la glotte par fibroscopie nasale (laryngoscopie). Nos résultats obtenus avec des locuteurs de Séoul âgés d’une trentaine d’années ne montrent pour la constriction glottale des consonnes fortis aucun des signes de glottalisation proposés dans le cadre des “Six Valves of Throat for sub-glottal reinforcements” [six valves de gorge pour le renforcement sub-glottique] de Edmondson & Esling.

Mots cles: Laryngoscopie; Langue coréenne; Glottalisation; Consonnes fortis


Laryngoscope; Korean language; Glottalization; Fortis consonants



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