An Acoustical Comparison of English Tense and Lax Vowels Produced by Korean and American Males

한국인남성과 미국인남성이 발음한 영어 긴장.이완모음의 음향적 비교

  • Published : 2008.12.30


Several studies on the pronunciation of English vowels point out that Korean learners have difficulty distinguishing English tense and lax vowel pairs. The acoustic comparisons of those studies are mostly based on the formant measurement at one time point of a given vowel section. However, the English lax vowels usually show dynamic changes across their syllable peaks and subjects' English levels account for various conflicting results. The purposes of this paper are to compare the temporal duration and dynamic formant tracks of English tense and lax vowel pairs produced by five Korean and five American males. The subjects were graduate students of an American state university. Results showed that both the Korean and American males produced the vowels with comparable durations. The duration of the front tense-lax vowel pair was longer than that of the back vowel pair. From the formant track comparisons, the American males produced the tense and lax pairs much more distinctly than the Korean male speakers. The results suggest that the Korean males should pay attention to the F1 and F2 movements, i.e., the jaw and tongue movements, in order to match those of the American males. Further studies are recommended on the auditorily acceptable ranges of F2 variation for the lax vowels.