Effects of speaker gender on voice onset time in Korean stops

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Several studies have shown that the voice onset time (VOT) of English stops varies as a function of speaker gender. The overall trend indicates that females exhibit larger VOT values than males for long-lag stops. Previous studies have mainly attributed this difference to physiological differences between the genders. If this were the case, we would expect to find identical gender differences in the VOTs of long-lag stops in other languages. Thirty-eight native speakers of Korean (19 males and 19 females) produced fortis, lenis, and aspirated stops in /CVn/ words both in isolation and in a carrier sentence. On average, the males exhibited longer VOTs than the females for the aspirated stops, and the differences were statistically significant in both utterance types. This result indicates that the physiological explanations previously proposed are not tenable since there is no inherent reason why VOT values for the long-lag stops are longer for females in English, but longer for males in Korean. Also, the males in this experiment exhibited more distinctive distributions in VOT values between lenis and aspirated stops than the females. It was suggested that sociophonetic factors may explain why different languages can exhibit opposing trends in temporal acoustic features such as VOTs based on gender differences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-67
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Phonetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


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