Why [h] and aspirated consonants are different in Korean

Lan Kim, John Alderete

Abstract: This paper examines the phonological processes affecting [h] and aspirated consonants in Korean and provides a comprehensive analysis in Optimality Theory. Following standard assumptions, [h] and aspirated consonants are treated as a class of aspirates and specified for the same laryngeal  feature, e.g., [spread glottis]. Despite this formal similarity, they undergo different processes in the same syllabic positions, e.g., coda position and post-obstruent onset position. We argue that these facts require an analysis in which all coda aspirates violate a positional markedness constraint, but that [h] differs from aspirated consonants in lacking a surface place specification. In particular, placeless [h] is treated differently by faithfulness constraints, which makes it possible to account for the different processes it undergoes. Plausible alternations are also considered that employ various combinations of these assumptions with positional faithfulness constraints. This discussion shows the necessity of both positional markedness and the assumed placeless [h], because none of the alternatives can account for the full pattern in Korean

Keywords: Korean, aspirated consonants, neutralization, Optimality Theory, feature specification

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Full citation: 2008. Lan Kim and John Alderete. Why [h] and aspirated consonants are different in Korean. In the Proceedings of the first International Conference of East Asian Linguistics, Toronto Working Papers in Linguistics 28, pp. 123-136, Toronto: University of Toronto Department of Linguistics.