The Korean Association for the Study of English Language and Linguistics
[ Article ]
Korea Journal of English Language and Linguistics - Vol. 19, No. 4, pp.629-643
ISSN: 1598-1398 (Print)
Print publication date 31 Dec 2019
Received 10 Nov 2019 Revised 16 Dec 2019 Accepted 20 Dec 2019

Frequency and Acoustic Reduction in English –ment Derivatives

Jae-Hyun Sung
Yonsei University


This study investigates the influence of frequency on the production of bimorphemic words, and considers which frequency measure is most apt to explain the differences. Previous studies have reported that frequent words are produced faster and more casually than infrequent ones, and that medial segments will yield shorter durations. The present study examines the relation between frequency and the duration of medial segments in English derived words by conducting a production experiment with 6 native speakers of American English using 74 English –ment derivatives, and evaluates whole-word frequency, base frequency, and relative frequency (whole-word frequency divided by base frequency) against one another as predictors. The results show that models incorporating any of the three frequency measures strongly predict medial segment duration. Among the three frequency measures, whole-word frequency explained the most variance, across all consonant types. The duration of segments in highly frequent words tends to be shorter than that in relatively infrequent words. Overall, this study confirms that speakers are sensitive to the extralinguistic information associated with the words such as frequency, and in this case, traditional frequency measures (whole-word and base frequencies) are better predictors than relative frequency.


English –ment derivatives, whole-word frequency, base frequency, relative frequency, acoustic reduction


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Jae-Hyun Sung, ProfessorYonsei UniversityDepartment of English Language and Literature50 Yonsei-ro, Seodaemun-guSeoul, KoreaTel: 02) 2123-2329E-mail: