Pitch-Pattern Diffusion of Generational Tone Change in North Kyungsang Korean English Loanwords

Young Hwang1,*, Stuart Davis1
Author Information & Copylight
1Indiana University
*Corresponding Author : Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Linguistics, Indiana University, 107 S Indiana Ave, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA, E-mail:

ⓒ Copyright 2019 Language Education Institute, Seoul National University. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Received: Feb 21, 2019 ; Revised: Apr 09, 2019 ; Accepted: Apr 12, 2019

Published Online: Apr 30, 2019


North Kyungsang (NK) Korean is a pitch accent language that uses both high and low tones. NK Korean permits only one accented syllable in a single prosodic word; therefore, if an accented stem is combined with an accented suffix, one of the underlying accents must be deleted. According to traditional observations, NK English loanwords always maintain their stem accent, unlike NK native words. However, our recent observations reveal that this unique loanword pattern seems to be changing, especially among the younger generations. To determine the existence of this suffixal tonal change, a production task was conducted with younger and older speakers of NK Korean. The results reveal that a pitch-pattern diffusion is in progress across the board in final accented NK English loanwords when combined with an accented suffix. Such loanwords seem to be losing their unique tone patterns and nativizing their suffixal accent. Although the diffusion is occurring in both younger and older speakers, the degree of diffusion differs and is quite patterned, based on the speakers’ age as well as the number of syllables and syllable structure of the words.

Keywords: North Kyungsang Korean; pitch-pattern diffusion; generational tone change



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