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Knoob, Stefan L. (2007) Animacy, agency and causality in Korean voice and diathesis: A cognitive-semiotic usage-based perspective. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Adopting a usage-based construction grammar approach, the thesis proposes a radically revised account of the Korean voice system with two main oppositions: ACTIVE ~ INACTIVE and ENDOACTIVE ~ EXOACTIVE. These are marked on the verb, but voice categories are primarily semantic and equally basic. The attendant clause structures are only weakly determined by the predicate's voice status and instead inherited from a systemically independent diathesis system. The thesis first demonstrates the inherent Indoeuropean biases and asymmetries in the Standard Voice Model that underlies the traditional active-passive-causative account. It then turns to the Korean system and its central features: inchoative-passive conflation in a single INACTIVE voice, voice-marking paradigm proliferation with equipollency and complex correspondences to voice categories, causative and passive usage of unmarked basic verbs, and animacy, agency and causality differentiation in the diathesis system. The thesis then details animacy-related effects in the oblique argument system. The choice of Inanimate and Animate Locational patterns is conditioned not by ontological animacy but by utterance-specific situational animacy and agency. And the variety of Korean agent-phrase-like patterns reflects differentiations along the situational animacy, agency and causality dimensions that correlate with animacy and agency constraints on diathesis selection. Finally, the thesis investigates the lexical spread and usage of 'morphological' and 'analytic passive' verbs. It shows that inchoative usage and inchoative-passive ambivalences are so widespread that they must be considered a central feature of a single INACTIVE category. And animacy and agency differentiation drives a systemic alignment of non-interpersonal actions, weakly agentive situations and inanimate causation with spontaneous situations. In conclusion, the thesis proposes that inchoative-passive conflation may be due to the fact that the ANIMATE ~ INANIMATE and AGENTIVE ~ NON-AGENTIVE dichotomies push the organisation and frequency distribution in the Korean diathesis system towards alignment of non-agentive causation with spontaneous situation-dynamics.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:11

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