The Adaptation of English Liquids in Contemporary Korean: a Diachronic Study

Yoonjung Kang


This paper examines the diachronic development of English liquid adaptation in Contemporary Korean (1890-Present) based on a number of loanword lists from different time periods. The examination of initial liquids shows that contrary to common assumption, the initial liquids are often realized as [n], showing that the Tuim rule (a rule of initial liquid avoidance) is still active, although marginally. The adaptation of word-medial /l/ varies between singleton [ɾ] and geminate [ll]. A quantitative study finds evidence for both of two competing explanations for the variation—(1) the singleton adaptation is a remnant of Japanese-mediated loans and (2) the variation is conditioned by the durational characteristics of English input—but the former turns out to be a more dominant factor and the latter plays only a minor role.


loanwords; Korean; English; Japanese; diachrony

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Copyright (c) 2012 Yoonjung Kang