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1 The Merger of Non-High Front Vowels in Korean: Mission Accomplished David J. Silva & Wenhua Jin The University of Texas at Arlington

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Presentation on theme: "1 The Merger of Non-High Front Vowels in Korean: Mission Accomplished David J. Silva & Wenhua Jin The University of Texas at Arlington"— Presentation transcript:

1 1 The Merger of Non-High Front Vowels in Korean: Mission Accomplished David J. Silva & Wenhua Jin The University of Texas at Arlington 2008 Meeting of the International Circle of Korean Linguistics Binghamton University / Cornell University June 2008

2 2 What’s Wrong with this Picture? 멍멍 ! 게 key vs. 개 kay

3 3 Evidence of the Front Vowel Merger  KFL –* 게가 “ 멍멍 ” 라고 하지 ? –* 궨찮아요 ! (* 궨차나요 !) –* 언재 시작뒐까 ?  Korean as L1 –“ 어이 에 ”vs.“ 아이 애 ”  Korean ESL –“English has five front vowels: …  [i]  [ι]  [e]  [ε]  [æ].”

4 4 Outline of the Talk  Background  Methodology  Data  Discussion  Conclusion –The merger of 애 ay and 에 ey is complete … –… despite the fact that there are speakers who can differentiate the two. –The merger is another way in which Modern Seoul Korean differentiates itself from other dialects.

5 5 Background: 애 ay ~ 에 ey  “throughout much of southern Korea … ay is distinguished from ey poorly, if at all. …” Martin 1992:25  “there is no phonemic distinction between [the two] in southern dialects…” Sohn 1999:156  “the distinction between /ay/ and /ey/ is considered an earmark of standard, Seoul speech,” but … “the distinction has been lost throughout much of the country south of Seoul,” thereby relegating differentiation to “old-time natives of the city.” Lee & Ramsey 2000:64  “the mid front vowel merger … display[s] a significant age variation but no significant variations in sex, class or style.” Hong 1988

6 6 The Research Question  Is the merger of 애 ay and 에 ey complete? –To what extent do we still find age-based variation when it comes to differentiating between 애 ay and 에 ey?

7 7 Data Collection 1  63 participants from a larger study (n=83)  Recorded in/around Seoul  Fall 2004  Demographic Questionnaire –year of birth –education –etc.  Consent (per IRB policies)

8 8 Data Collection 2  Controlled reading of pre-determined, randomly sequenced sentences on cards  Five cycles (card shuffled each time)  Five minimal pairs: – 개 ‘dog’vs. 게 ‘crab’ – 내 ‘my’vs. 네 ‘your’ – 배 ‘boat’vs. 베 ‘hemp cloth’ – 태 ‘form/figure’vs. 테 ‘hoop’ – 샘 ‘spring/well’vs. 셈 ‘calculation’  Frame: “ 이건 ______( 이 ) 라고 하죠.”  n = 2506 tokens

9 9 Data Measurement  Visual assessment of the vocalic steady state  Two measurements in Praat –Frequency of the First Formant (F1)  higher F1 = lower vowel  lower F1 = higher vowel –Frequency of the Second Formant (F2)  higher F2 = more front  lower F2 = more back i a u F2 F1

10 10 Reference: American English i u ι e ε æ a

11 Widespread Merger of 애 and 에  Most speakers present no statistically significant differences in the mean values of F1 and F2 for 애 ay and 에 ey ( α=0.95) F2 difference? noyes F1 difference? no % 1 1.6% % yes % 3 4.8% % % 4 6.3% %

12 12 Height Merger: ΔF1 ay-ey ≈ 0  78% present no statistically significant differences in the mean values of F1 for 애 ay and 에 ey ( α=0.95)  ΔF1 ay-ey = Mean F1 ay – Mean F1 ey ≈ 0 F2 difference? noyes F1 difference? no % 1 1.6% % yes % 3 4.8% % % 4 6.3% %

13 13 Undifferentiated ay ~ ey

14 14 Differentiated ay~ey: Females

15 15 Differentiated ay~ey: Males

16 16 ΔF1 ay-ey : No Age-Based Differences p = 0.15, R 2 = 0.034

17 17 No Other Sociolinguistic Differences Sex Educational Attainment Occupation Father’s Education Father’s Occupation Speech Training Importance of Clear Speech Self-Assessment of Clarity “Shibboleth”

18 18 Of the Residual Variation … … what category would it fall under (à la Labov)?  Indicator? –Perhaps… no age stratificationbut…  no apparent social stratificationand…  stylistic variation (none for most speakers)  Marker? –Not likely.  No social variation  No overt social interpretation  Stereotype? –No. Not stigmatized. “Anti-Stereotype” or “Shibboleth”?

19 19 Other Dialects of Korean  ay and ey remain distinct… –among Korean speakers from Jilin Province living in Beijing(Silva & Jin 2006) –among Korean speakers living in Shenyang, Liaoning Province (Jin 2008) –elsewhere?  Further sociolinguistic research is merited, as casual perceptions may be clouded by the orthography

20 20 Implications  Pedagogy: E  K, K  E Many sources persist in claiming that 애 ay and 에 ey are distinct: “False Positive Transfer” –One KFL website:  “tense mid front unrounded ' ㅔ ' is similar to English 'e'”  “open low front unrounded ' ㅐ ' is similar to English 'æ'” –EFL resources in Korea encourage students to equate  English [æ] with Korean 애  English [ε] with Korean 에 –Pronunciation Guide of the 어린이 영어 그림 사전 (Children's English Picture Dictionary), p. 12: »æ 애 bag[bæg 백 ] »e 에 egg [eg 에그 ]

21 21 Implications 2 Transliteration as Tradition [i]peen 피인 [ι]pin 핀 [e]pane 페인 [ε]pen 펜 [æ]pan 팬 Decisions are often based on presuppositions regarding English orthography, and perhaps not on English pronunciation; prescriptive norms. Q: How would Korean 1 st and 2 nd graders render similar English words in han’geul?

22 22 Conclusions  The merger of 애 ay and 에 ey appears to be complete in this community  There are, however, speakers who can differentiate – shibboleth –Future Research: Stylistic Variation  Do those who differentiate ay and ey in card-reading do so in casual speech?  The merger may be specific to Seoul Korean, marking SK as distinct from other dialects

23 23 감사합니다  Korea Foundation  Kyung Hee University, Division of English  The University of Texas at Arlington, Faculty Development Leave Program  “Viewers Like You”


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