An analysis of selected Korean hedges in spoken discourse : sociopragmatic and pragmalinguistic perspectives

Yoon, Yeon Hee
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2010]
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This dissertation presents an empirical analysis of Korean hedges in contemporary spoken discourse. The data analyzed was drawn from my corpus based on approximately 17 hours of unplanned, naturally occurring conversations. This study classified lexical and syntactic hedges in my corpus and investigated the frequency of individual hedge items. It provided an analysis of the correlation between hedge use and sociopragmatic factors as well as pragmalinguistic factors. The results of statistical analysis reveal that (i) more hedges are used in two-party conversations than in multiple-party (three or four participants) conversations in Korean spoken discourse, (ii) more hedges are used in conversations with personal topics than with impersonal topics in Korean spoken discourse, and (iii) hedges in Korean spoken discourse are employed as a positive politeness strategy as well as a negative politeness strategy although hedges have been viewed traditionally as a form of negative politeness. There are several theoretical contributions. First, this study shows that previous sociolinguistic views on the correlation between hedge use and a social structural factor such as gender have reflected a tendency for overgeneralization. Second, the analysis of this study proposes the importance of social situational factors such as the number of speakers and the topic of conversation for sociopragmatic analysis. The most influential factors which affect hedge use in Korean spoken discourse are not social structural factors such as gender, age, region, or occupation, but social situational factors. Third, this study elucidates the function of hedges as interactive strategies which may facilitate the success of interactions between interlocutors, enhance interpersonal rapport, and establish solidarity in terms of a positive politeness strategy extending beyond the negative politeness strategy. Fourth, this study demonstrates that an analysis that include both sociopragmatic and pragmalinguistic perspectives is necessary and important when analyzing hedges. According to the empirical analysis of Korean hedges in this study, Korean hedge use is affected by contextual factors as well as strategic factors. Thus, multi-layered approach is meaningful for analyzing and comprehending the complexity of the hedge.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2010.
Includes bibliographical references.
hedge, mitigation, Korean pragmatics, Korean spoken discourse, sociopragmatic analysis, pragmalinguistic analysis
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Theses for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (University of Hawaii at Manoa). East Asian Languages and Literatures (Korean).
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