The Phonetic Difference Between the Korean Stop Series /p,t,k/ and the English /b,d,g/ Based on the VOT Value

  • Published : 2003.09.01


Korean is famous for having all voiceless stop sounds. Korean does have voiced stops but they are considered to exist only as the allophones of word initial /p, t, k/. My experiment shows the English word initial stop sounds [b, d, g] and the Korean lax stop series /p, t, k/ in word initial position are similar in the range of voice onset time. If English word initial[b, d, g] sounds are posited as voiced, then Korean word initial /p, t, k/ should be classified as voiced also. Phonetically English /b, d, g/ phonemes and Korean /p, t, k/ phonemes are very similar except the word initial [p, t, k] are devoiced slightly more, but not significant enough to be classified as voiceless than English word initial [b, d, g]. If we posit /b, d, g/ as Korean phonemes, it explains why Korean /p, t, k/ series has the allophones [b, d, g] instead of fortis stops /p', t', k'/ in Korean even though /p', t', k'/ has less positive VOT value than /p, t, k/. If we posit /b, d, g/ as Korean phonemes, then it does not cause spelling or pronunciation confusion either when Koreans learn English or English speakers learn Korean.