Theses Doctoral

Person References in Korean

Song, Gahye

This dissertation is an empirical study on how people refer to themselves, their recipients, and others in everyday Korean conversation. Person reference is a domain of conversation where we observe an essential aspect of human sociality as it is a vehicle through which we indicate our relationships with each other and perform a myriad of other social actions. As person reference is done using a distinct set of linguistic resources available in each language, it is also an important site of cross-linguistic research. Despite its potential to offer insight into how language, culture, and social interaction intersect, research on person reference in languages other than English has been sporadic. This study aims to contribute to the literature by investigating how various referential expressions are used to accomplish social actions, such as assessing, challenging, or persuading, in Korean.
The study employs the analytic framework of conversation analysis (CA) to analyze approximately 15 hours of video-recorded data, 50 hours of telephone conversations, and a few instances of text messages. My findings show that various marked referring expressions for speaker, recipient, and others are used to accomplish diverse social actions in Korean. First, marked first-person expressions are used to launch a new topically-fitted telling, present others’ perspectives in the environment of advancing a position, and resist the terms of a question. Second, overt reference to recipient is used to mark newsworthiness of speculation made about the recipient and to challenge the recipient’s entitlement claimed in a prior utterance. Finally, switching between unmarked referential form for non-present others and marked quasi-pronouns (QPs) occurs when a telling about the referent transitions between reporting and assessing of action or state. The findings of this study not only contribute to the literature of person reference in social interaction but also benefit practitioners in Korean as a Second or Foreign Language (KSL/KFL) by offering a useful description of how various referential forms in Korean can be employed to achieve a speaker’s interactional agenda.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Arts and Humanities
Thesis Advisors
Waring, Hansun Z.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 6, 2019