Modern Korean has been analyzed as having six speech levels: plain, intimate, familiar, blunt, polite, and deferential. Reference grammars attribute the use of these speech levels to the relationship between the participants interacting within a particular context for a particular purpose. However, within the same speech event, speakers frequently alternate between speech levels, and to date, this type of alternation in Korean has not been accounted for. This paper will focus on the alternation between the deferential and polite forms, where, at times speakers will use the deferential form and at times, the polite. The article will point out that rather than being influenced by social relationships, the choice of one form over the other seems instead to be primarily motivated by information status. We will show that the deferential form co-occurs with new and non-shared information, while the polite form co-occurs with shared and common-sense levels of information.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Language and Linguistics
- Linguistics and Language