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Won Kyu Lee

Ph.D. Dissertation, 1991


There are various devices to express politeness in language, but it is agreed that the system of honorific speech style is well-known characteristics of the Korean language. This dissertation aims at exploring the principles and factors underlying the phenomena of honorifics and politeness in Korean. There are four chapters in this thesis: (1) Introduction; (2) Honorifics; (3) Politeness; (4) Kinship terms in Korean. Following the introduction in chapter one, chapter two discusses the characteristics of honorific system in Korean. Three different kinds of honorifics according to the target of the honorification is recognized: Addressee honorifics, Subject honorifics, and Object honorifics. It is claimed that the intertwined relationships among the participants such as speaker-subject-object-addressee play an important role in the realization of the honorifics. Chapter three discusses various aspects of politeness in Korean in relation to the use of honorifics. Several definitions and principles given in the previous works are surveyed, and then politeness will be viewed from the point of 'conversational implicature' resulting from the violation of Gricean Maxims. And the last section illustrates further socio-cultural factors involved in politeness in Korean. Chapter four is a case study of applying our proposed rules of honorifics and politeness to the kinship terms in Korean. After a brief description of the characteristics of Korean kinship terminology, I suggest that the two major categories--terms of address and terms of reference--result from the strategies of politeness.

Department of Linguistics University of Wisconsin-Madison

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