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Sells, Peter and Kim, Jong-Bok (2007) 'Korean Honorification: A Kind of Expressive Meaning.' Journal of East Asian Linguistics, 16 (4). pp. 303-336.

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Honorification in Korean recognizes the elevated social status of a participant in a clause with respect to the subject and/or the hearer. Honorific marking may be manifest as a nominal suffix, a special honorific form of a noun, an honorific case particle, an honorific marker on a verb, or a special honorific form of a verb. Previous accounts have typically proposed a honorification feature specified as [HON +], with unmarked forms being [HON -]. The key idea in this paper is that these approaches are misguided and that honorification is a privative feature, syntactically and semantically. On the syntactic side, we argue that the frequently adopted position that honorific marking in Korean is a kind of subject-verb agreement is deeply misguided. Few previous accounts succeed with regard to the full range of facts, which are of three types. First, multiple expressions of honorific marking within the same clause progressively elevate the social status of the referent: the effect is cumulative, which [HON ±] cannot describe. Second, under previous analyses, some nouns have to be given a spurious and ultimately inconsistent ambiguity with respect to their honorific properties. Third, the different expressions of “honorification” do not mean exactly the same thing, which makes an account of multiple honorification within a clause in terms of agreement implausible. On the semantic side, we, building on ideas in Potts (The logic of conventional implicatures. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2005) and Potts and Kawahara (Proceedings of semantics and linguistic theory. CLC Publications, Ithaca, NY, pp. 235-254, 2004), propose that honorific forms introduce a dimension of meaning in the realm of expressive meaning. As a kind of expressive meaning, Expressive meaning honorification is simply absent from all forms which are not positively marked for expressing it.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of Linguistics
ISSN: 09258558
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 May 2008 13:00

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