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Phonological Processes in Korean Speakers of English Report

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Updated: Jun 25th, 2022

The phonological process refers to sound pattern errors, which learners of a language make when vocalizing new dialects, such as when children learn how to speak or when adults begin mastering second languages. The process is exhibited in multiple ways, such as assimilation, where consonants of another word are likened to other similar expressions. Similarly, cluster reduction occurs when the initial syllable is dropped from particular words or the last consonant is omitted in pronunciation (Sung, 2018). In some cases, reduplication is practiced, while in others, long sounds are replaced with shorter alternatives. Finally, velar fronting occurs when certain sounds are indiscriminately mistaken for others, and weak syllables are removed from a word.

The specific issue with Korean speakers of English concerning the phonological process involves the overbearing nature of the first language on the second one. Notably, the Korean vocabulary consists of a substantially varying set of sound inventories, establishing sound patterns and conflicting pitches. Accordingly, Korean natives who strive to learn the English language are riddled with pronunciation snags at the onset of their learning process (Sung, 2018). In the process, there are fundamental socio-economic implications in a globalized world when one fails to communicate with a fluent English speaker properly. Fundamentally, the hurdles in pronunciation hamper a person’s ability to appeal to people outside their local realms with profound occupation, communication, and business needs is lost.

The language feature aids learning by making the process more accessible, and upon learning, it becomes a natural ability. Given that the process is imitated by children learning to speak, it allows the learners to grow into the second language seamlessly until they finally master the new sound patterns. Some of the focus areas include the duration one has taken while strictly speaking the Korean language, which complicates the new learning exercise. The long spell of speaking a native language has far-reaching implications for a learner’s pronunciation skills in the English language. Besides, the accent is a principal area of attention, as outlined by consonantal phonology dictating the manner of delivering intonations (Sung, 2018). Moreover, the multi-linguistic features reveal Korean speakers’ inclination to align with their native coronal assimilation at the second language’s expense. Furthermore, the influences of nasal assimilation and prolonged introduction of the English language to native Koreans further complicate their capacity to grasp proper pronunciation patterns.

The background of the problem is traced to nasal assimilation, where the features of English consonants are drawn into the phoneme features of the Korean dialect. Resultantly, English words are pronounced as though they were Korean language words to distort the meaning and hamper the intended communication process (Sung, 2018). The attempt to make pronunciations easier has resulted in distorted prefixes and complicated the ability to pronounce some words rightfully. Such influence on assimilation is portrayed at the word boundary or phraseology. Words that are similar to English words in the Korean language take precedence over the intended English words. Eventually, it is not easy to articulate the words, and consonants and adequately pronounce the second language.

The research plan analysis entailed various methods and actions, such as interviews, qualitative, and quantitative methods. The collected data relied on oral and written sources and was analyzed in themes and theoretical considerations. Using interviews, the study collected important information from a small group of participants to increase the analysis’s accuracy. The questions were structured and asked severally to enhance the relationship of the different participants’ responses. The identified sounds and diachronic swifts targeted the insertion of coda plosives in English words’ pronunciation by the Korean natives.

It was necessary to explain the language’s behavior is influenced by nasal variations in the group under study. Those who had spoken the native language for longer were not keen on the deviations in pronunciations as required. Most were keen on using the borrowed words in their expressions (Sung, 2018). On the other hand, Koreans who had used the English language longer could differentiate the consonants from the native language. Also, they were not keen on applying the borrowed words. Thereby, articulation of consonant placement is dictated by the familiarity with the second language due to more prolonged exposure and usage of English at the expense of the native dialect.

A literature review on the pronunciation constraints by native Koreans learning English as a second language depicts the conflict of phonological rules in the two dialects and assimilation connections. Sung (2018) shows the pronunciation variance between native Korean speakers and those who have since acquired English as a second language through scrutiny of lateralization and obstruent nasalization. The Korean speaker was not keen on multiple analysis cases, such as a change in context and compensation for the phonological processes (Sung, 2018). The English speaker portrayed varying results as he was free of the nasal assimilation influences and regard for the phonological rules, unlike his counterpart. The preliminary results show that the population sample with limited interaction with the English language struggled more in pronouncing English words, unlike those with little comprehension of the language. Nonetheless, the nasal assimilation influence was still evident in the lot that understood the English language. They still struggled with the complete separation of consonant articulation and pronunciation.


Sung, E. (2018). The effects of consonant contact constraints and syllable structure on speech perception in Korean assimilation contexts. 음성음운형태론연구, 24(2), 147-172. Web.

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"Phonological Processes in Korean Speakers of English." IvyPanda, 25 June 2022, ivypanda.com/essays/phonological-processes-in-korean-speakers-of-english/.

1. IvyPanda. "Phonological Processes in Korean Speakers of English." June 25, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/phonological-processes-in-korean-speakers-of-english/.


IvyPanda. "Phonological Processes in Korean Speakers of English." June 25, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/phonological-processes-in-korean-speakers-of-english/.


IvyPanda. 2022. "Phonological Processes in Korean Speakers of English." June 25, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/phonological-processes-in-korean-speakers-of-english/.


IvyPanda. (2022) 'Phonological Processes in Korean Speakers of English'. 25 June.

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