Univ. of Texas at Arlington, 420 Woodcrest #103-T, Arlington, TX 76010
Despite numerous studies on lax, aspirated, and fortis stops in Korean, few have reported on the role of the following vowel in consonant perception. This paper examines the degree to which vowels convey the phonation characteristics of the preceding obstruents, with a hypothesis: Native speakers utilize vowel's quality in perceiving the preceding obstruents. This study includes (1) acoustic analyses of VOT, F0, intensity build-up, and vowel length and (2) the perception test, where subjects were instructed to indentify CV syllables using stimuli with consonant portions completely removed, The acoustic analyses indicate that the acoustic characteristics associated with vowels, pattern systematically with preceding obstruents (e.g., systematic difference in vowel length). In the perception test, subjects correctly identified the missing consonant 78% of the time, supporting the hypothesis. The probability was higher for the fortis than for the aspirated obstruents: Obstruents with longer VOTs spread less acoustic information into the following vowels, suggesting that the nature of VOT is possibly ``voiceless vowelness.'' Most wrongly identified aspirated obstruents were misperceived as fortis ones, confirming that the aspirated and the fortis consonants share some acoustic features (e.g., higher F0, rapid intensity buildup). The overall results indicate that following vowels play a pivotal role in consonant perception.