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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: The Phonetics and Phonology of Stop Lenition in Korean Add Dissertation
Author: David Silva Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Cornell University, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 1992
Linguistic Subfield(s): Phonetics; Phonology;
Subject Language(s): Korean
Director(s): John Whitman

Abstract: This study, an investigation into the phonological and phonetic properties of the Korean stop consonants, addresses the following issues: (1) the underlying representations for the Korean stops; (2) the allophonic variation they exhibit in three different prosodic positions: at the edge of a phonological phrase, at the edge of a phonological word, and within a phonological word; and (3) a formal characterization of those processes commonly referred to as lenition.

Speech data collected from five male speakers of the standard language served as the basis for two acoustic studies, one on the lax stops/p/, /t/, and /k/ and another on the bilabial stops lax /p/, reinforced /p'/ and aspirated /ph/. For each token, number of the acoustic characteristics were measured, including the duration of stop closure, the duration of voicing in the closure, and vowel lag ('aspiration'). The data were then subjected to statistical analysis to discern the relative effects of several independent variables, among them place of articulation, phonation type, and prosodic position.

The results of the investigation of the lax stops indicated that place of articulation plays only a minor role in the analysis while prosodic position is a more important factor. The investigation of the bilabial stops showed that phonation type, prosodic position, and their interaction all play a significant role in accounting for the observed acoustic behavior. As specifically regards the effects of prosody, it was found that segments occurring within a word are weaker (i.e., more sonorous and shorter) than those occurring at either the edge of a phonological phrase (where they are strongest) or the edge of a phonological word within a phrase.

Based on the results of the quantitative study, a new analysis of lenition--one that recognizes a distinction between phonological and phonetic processes--is presented. Under this account, phonological lenition is characterized by a loss of phonological structure and a subsequent non-directional reassociation of neighboring features, thereby yielding categorical changes. Phonetic lenition is characterized by a loss of duration, which gives rise to gradient values in the phonetic properties associated with the stops.