Date Thesis Awarded

7-2018

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

Linguistics

Advisor

Anya Lunden

Committee Members

Jack Martin

Kate Harrigan

Abstract

The Korean language appears to be in a transitory state, with some evidence supporting the emergence of a phonemic tonal contrast, and other evidence pointing more towards phonetic variation in vowel pitch. Most theories of tonogenesis are based upon the idea that consonants influence the sounds around them, which makes Korean a particularly interesting case due to its unusual series of three-way contrasting consonants. This paper traces the trajectory of Korean’s consonants over the last century, investigates evidence for and against an emerging tonal contrast in Korean, and describes my own parallel experiment in English and the implications it has on our understanding of tone in Korean. I conclude that Korean is in a very late stage of tonogenesis.

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