Linguistic entrenchment and the effect of subjective lexical familiarity in Korean /n/-insertion

Jiyeon Song, Amanda Dalola


Korean shows variable /n/-insertion between a morpheme-final consonant and the initial /i/ or /j/ of a following morpheme. Literature has shown that the appearance of the phenomenon can be affected by various parameters, including social and phonological factors. Exemplar theory contends that a word’s susceptibility to language variation correlates directly with its word frequency, a unitary frequency measure based on a corpus (Pierrehumbert 2001; Bybee 2002). However, given that individuals have different language experience, word frequency rarely addresses individual differences in the same way that self-rated measures of word frequency, known as subjective lexical familiarity, do. This research investigates whether and how the metric of self-rated lexical familiarity affects Korean /n/-insertion. Results indicate that subjective lexical familiarity significantly predicts the appearance of /n/-insertion, such that words more familiar to the speaker show /n/-insertion more often than those that are less familiar.


Korean /n/-insertion; subjective lexical familiarity; variation; sociophonetic factors

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