The role of native phonology in spontaneous imitation: Evidence from Seoul Korean




Kwon, Harim

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Journal of the Association of Laboratory Phonology


This study investigates the role of phonology in spontaneous imitation in Seoul Korean speakers’ imitation of aspirated stops by comparing the primary and non-primary cues. Seoul Korean aspirated stops are differentiated from stops of other phonation types by at least two distinct acoustic properties, stop VOT and f0 of the post-stop vowel, with the latter being the primary cue. In the imitation experiment, Seoul Korean speakers heard and shadowed model speech that contained aspirated stops manipulated by either raising post-stop f0 or lengthening VOT. Their realization of these properties in /tʰ/, /t/, and /t*/ productions were compared before, during, and after exposure. Although both high f0 and long VOT induced imitative changes in post-shadowing productions, the results revealed that exposure to an enhanced non-primary cue (long VOT) also influences the production of the primary cue for aspirated stops (post-stop f0). However, an enhanced primary cue (high f0) does not have similar effects on the non-primary cue. These results provide evidence that spontaneous imitation is not strictly tied to individual phonetic properties but it is rather phonological in that abstract categories are involved in the process of imitation.