NSM-based approach to meanings of synonyms: Focusing on hearsay markers in Japanese and Korean'

Yuko Asano-Cavagh, Duck-Young Lee

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    The aim of this study is to analyse hearsay markers souda, rashii and -tte in Japanese and -tay and -nikka in Korean from the perspective of Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM), which was proposed and developed by Anna Wierzbicka and colleagues (Goddard 1994, 1998, 2008, 2016; Goddard & Wierzbicka 2002, 2014; Peeters 2006). Souda, rashii and –tte are used in similar situations and are often translated in English as ‘he/she says’, or ‘I heard’. Although these hearsay markers are considered synonyms, they are not necessarily interchangeable. There are subtle differences which cannot be captured by a dictionary or conventional semantic analysis. The current study shows that the NSM Approach is more advantageous than previous researches in that it can describe the (dis)similarities of synonyms in a simple and accurate fashion. The study will then analyse Korean markers, -tay and -nikka from the NSM perspective, and compare its results with those of the Japanese hearsay markers. Within the NSM framework, the semantic properties of each expression are defined by semantic primes, which are near-universal in nature. It will be demonstrated that the NSM Approach is capable of dealing with semantic properties of markers/expressions in different languages, and that definitions facilitate the understanding of each expression and enable to compare the meanings cross-linguistically.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)87-106
    JournalJournal of Japanese Language
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


    Dive into the research topics of 'NSM-based approach to meanings of synonyms: Focusing on hearsay markers in Japanese and Korean''. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this