Use of Tonal Information in Korean Lexical Access

Annie Tremblay, Seulgi Shin, Sahyang Kim, Taehong Cho


Prominence in Seoul Korean is realized at the level of the Accentual Phrase (AP), with the AP-final High (H) tone signaling prosodic word-final boundaries and the AP-initial Low (L) tone signaling word-initial boundaries [1–2]. Using word-spotting experiments, Kim and Cho [3] showed that Korean speech segmentation benefits from both the AP-final H and AP-initial L tones, but it is unclear whether (and if so, how) tonal information also constrains lexical access in Korean. The present study investigates this issue using a visual-world eye-tracking experiment. Native Korean listeners heard sentences containing a temporary lexical ambiguity between a disyllabic target word in AP-initial position (e.g., [saesinbu-ga]AP [masul-eul]AP ‘the-new-bride-subj magic-obj’) and a disyllabic competitor word spanning the AP boundary (e.g., gama ‘palanquin’). The auditory stimuli were resynthesized to create four tonal boundary conditions: H#L, H#H, L#L, and L#H, where # represents an AP boundary. Listeners’ eye movements to the printed target and competitor words were monitored as they heard the auditory stimuli. The results showed independent effects of the AP-initial and AP-final tones on lexical access, suggesting that the intonational system of Korean modulates lexical activation and highlighting the importance of language-specific tonal cues in lexical access.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-166

Cite as: Tremblay, A., Shin, S., Kim, S., Cho, T. (2018) Use of Tonal Information in Korean Lexical Access. Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018, 823-827, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-166.


@inproceedings{Tremblay2018,
  author={Annie Tremblay and Seulgi Shin and Sahyang Kim and Taehong Cho},
  title={Use of Tonal Information in Korean Lexical Access},
  year=2018,
  booktitle={Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018},
  pages={823--827},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-166},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-166}
}