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ISSN : 1226-4822(Print)
ISSN : (Online)
The Sociolinguistic Journal of Korea Vol.26 No.4 pp.1-21

Interplay of Sociolinguistic Factors in Rhythmic Variations in L2 English : A Quantitative Approach

Sung A Kim
Professor, Kyung Hee University


This study investigates how sociolinguistic factors such as gender and language proficiency affect speech rhythm by examining the spoken data of 40 Korean learners of English. Prosodic rhythm, which has been perceived to differentiate various regional varieties of English from General American English, is applied to L2 speech. By using the Normalized Vocalic Pairwise Variability Index (nPVI-V; Low, Grabe & Nolan 2000), L2 speech rhythm is quantified and results indicate that nPVI-V scores are higher for advanced learners of English (indicating more stress-timed speech) than for non-advanced speakers. The effect of gender on rhythm metrics is also tested. Results show that L2 male speakers are more likely to be syllable-timed, whereas L2 female speakers more stress-timed. This may reflect an aspect of gender paradox: women are more apt to adopt the new language than men. Overall, the results of the present study disclose how sociolinguistic factors such as gender and language proficiency interact with rhythm metrics in L2 speech.