A reconsideration of the omission of first and second person subjects in modern spoken Korean: Focusing on the pragmatic meanings of the overt subject expressions

Narah Lee

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    The present study aims to shed light on the pragmatic meanings of the overt expressions of the first and second person subjects in modern spoken Korean. As a pro-drop language, Korean omits its first and second person subjects in approximately 70-80% of cases. This phenomenon of 'subject omission' has been studied mostly at syntactic level in Korean linguistics. However, a discourse analytic approach could provide more diverse explanations for the phenomenon, particularly in the cases where subjects are overtly expressed, rather than omitted. In this study, I investigate the distribution of overtly expressed first and second person subjects in a Korean spoken corpus and attempt to refine our understanding of the pragmatic and sociolinguistic effects of the overt expression of first and second person subjects. The results show that there are age and gender is related to the distribution of first and second person subject expressions and on the occurrence of various person references. I argue that Korean speakers tend to utilise the overt first and second person subjects to display their social relationships and thereby convey their pragmatic intentions such as expressing intimacy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)145-163
    JournalDiscourse and Cognition
    Volume21
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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