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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Cross-linguistic f0 differences in bilingual speakers of English and Korean


Languages may differ in fundamental frequency of voicing (f0), even when they  are spoken by a bilingual individual. However, little is known in bilingual/L2 acquisition  research about simultaneous bilinguals. With the expectation that speakers who acquired  two languages early use f0 differently for each language, this study measured f0 in  English–Korean early bilinguals’ natural speech. The f0 level was higher for Korean than  English, regardless of gender, age, or generational status (early and late bilinguals did not  differ). The f0 span showed a language-gender interaction: males’ span was larger in  Korean, while females’ span was larger in English. This study demonstrates that languages  differ in f0 independent of speaker anatomy and suggests that children may acquire these  differences in early childhood.

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