S-Space Language Education Institute (언어교육원) Language Research (어학연구) Language Research (어학연구) Volume 42 Number 1/2 (2006)
Variation in the Korean Integration of English Word-Final /s/*
- Iverson; Gregory K; Ahrong, Lee
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 언어교육원
- 어학연구, Vol.42 No.2, pp. 239-251
- The adaptation of English word-final /s/ in words that are borrowed into Korean presents an interesting perceptual match-up inasmuch as Korean contrasts two types of voiceless fricatives, "lax" /s/ and "tense" /s'/, either of which, depending on context, may serve as the rendition of English /s/. Which of these is selected appears to correlate with the familiar durational difference between lax and tense consonants in Korean. In particular, S Kim (1999) showed that English words are borrowed consistently with tense /s'/ when the fricative is not in a cluster in the source language (where it is phonetically longer), whereas the result is lax /s/ when the fricative (phonetically shorter) does form part of a consonant cluster in the source language. Hypothesizing that Koreans are sensitive to this durational property, S Kim concluded that positional sub-phonemic length differences in the English fricative are apprehended directly by Korean listeners (and so presumably are contrastive in the language; cf. Iverson & A Lee 2006). Davis & M-H Cho (2006), on the other hand, maintain that the phonetic length correlation is not robust, noting specifically that S Kim was troubled by the adaptation of final clusters consisting of sonorant consonant plus /s/ (as in dance, false), which are rendered with the tense fricative despite being part of a source language cluster. Yet in a comprehensive acoustic study of English /s/ over a full range of environments, Klatt (1974) showed that while /s/ is shorter by 40% in clusters with stops (an [s] that Koreans adapt as lax), it is shorter by only 15% in clusters with sonorant consonants (an [s] which Koreans adapt as tense). Thus, it would appear that Koreans adapt instances of the English fricative following a sonorant as tense /s'/ because these are above the threshold of brevity that marks the non-tense obstruents in Korean, and in any case are appreciably longer than English [s] in an obstruent cluster (as first reported by A Lee (2006a); cf. A Lee (2006b) on adaptation of the stops in English s-clusters). The paper reports on a perception experiment further testing and supporting the hypothesis that phonetic length of the source fricative correlates directly with its adaptation as either lax or tense in Korean.