A grammar of com 'a little'

Lee, Hye Seung
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2014]
This dissertation will offer a synchronic and diachronic analysis of com from a grammaticalization perspective to show the evolution of com as a discourse marker. The word com started as a contracted form of the adverb of degree cokum 'a little or a few' and gradually has moved toward greater (inter)subjectivity, expanding its semantic and pragmatic functions and undergoing reanalysis of grammatical categories as well as phonological change. First, com has undergone pragmatic changes and seems to have passed the boundaries of the mitigating device. Analyzing my discourse data, I identified three general categories according to com's function: (1) to reduce illocutionary force, (2) as a filler, and (3) to increase illocutionary force. Second, the semantics of com have shifted from 'a little', to 'minimal' and to meaning a new, ironic 'a lot' by the mechanism of how a contronym evolves. Third, com has undergone structural change. The origin of com can be traced back to the nominalized construction cyekom 'being a little amount' and it became the noun cokum by lexicalization. Cokum as a noun branches into three forms: it remains as a noun with the same phonological form, decategorizes into an adverb cokum, and undergoes phonological attrition to one syllable com as a noun, an allomorph of cokum. Com as a noun branches into three: it remains com as a noun, and it decategorizes into com as an adverb and com as an adnoun or prefix. Com as an adverb decategorizes into a delimiter. Com within the category of delimiter shows subjective gradience, and it can be used as two different types of delimiter: constituent delimiters and sentential (discoursal) delimiters. Com as a delimiter continues to develop and decategorizes into a discourse marker. Fourth, com has undergone phonological change as well. Two syllable cokum becomes one syllable com, losing the consonant /k/ and the vowel /u/. As com has expanded its function into the category of discourse marker, the form is still undergoing other phonetic changes. There exist several forms of com in colloquial speech and casual writing, such as cem, ccem, chom, chyom, ccom, cwum, and cum.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2014.
Includes bibliographical references.
Korean, grammaticalization, discourse marker, com
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