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LINGUIST List 23.2316

Tue May 15 2012

Diss: Discourse Analysis/Pragmatics/Socioling: Yoon: 'A Contrastive Study of Responsibility for Understanding Utterances Between Japanese and Korean: Apologies and requests'

Editor for this issue: Xiyan Wang <xiyanlinguistlist.org>

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Date: 14-May-2012
From: Sumi Yoon <smy8005hotmail.com>
Subject: A Contrastive Study of Responsibility for Understanding Utterances Between Japanese and Korean: Apologies and requests
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Institution: Kanda University of International Studies
Program: Ph.D
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2012

Author: Sumi Yoon

Dissertation Title: A Contrastive Study of Responsibility for Understanding Utterances Between Japanese and Korean: Apologies and requests

Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis

Subject Language(s): English (eng)
                            Japanese (jpn)
                            Korean (kor)

Dissertation Director:
Yoshinori Nishijima

Dissertation Abstract:

From the point of view of language typology, Japanese and Korean are
regarded as very similar. Both languages belong to the group of
agglutinative languages, are categorized as SOV languages, and the subject
and object in a sentence in both languages are not obligatory. Furthermore,
the two languages have their own honorific systems no matter how they are
different in relative or absolute use. In this way, Japanese and Korean are
similar with respect to grammatical structure and honorific behavior.

Indeed, learning Japanese as a foreign language is easier for Korean native
speakers compared to learners from other countries, especially at the
beginner level. However, Korean learners of the Japanese language find
difficulties communicating with Japanese native speakers even though they
speak Japanese fluently. This may be caused by the differences in discourse
style, especially spoken discourse, between Japanese and Korean people. One
is apt to think that a Korean person who speaks fluent Japanese has no
problems with communicating in Japanese. However, knowing Japanese
vocabulary and grammar does not always lead to smooth communication.
Assumptions by language experts that Korean and Japanese are linguistically
and culturally similar may account for the dearth of research comparing and
contrasting both languages.

An example of these assumptions can be found in Hinds' typology of language
in discourse level, where Japanese and Korean are both considered to be
reader/listener-responsible languages, whereas English is classified as a
writer/speaker-responsible language (Hinds, 1987). Considering common
rhetorical features of both languages, Japanese and Korean have been
understood to be listener-responsible languages in discourse. However, on
the conversational level, Yoon (2009) demonstrated that Korean should be
classified as a speaker-responsible language based on her contrastive
analysis of daily conversations between married couples in Japanese and
Korean, where address terms are used as contextualization cues (Gumperz,
1982) to convey the speaker's intention to the interlocutor
metacommunicatively. Furthermore, it was also pointed out that Korean
couples use address terms as contextualization cues more frequently and
more variously than Japanese couples, especially in apologies and requests.

In this dissertation, the different communication styles are examined in
terms of the responsibility for understanding utterances (Hinds, 1987) on
the conversational level between Japanese and Korean people. The hypothesis
of the dissertation is that Japanese is a listener-responsible language in
which the speaker gives less information and uses unclear expressions, thus
the responsibility for understanding utterances falls on the listener,
while Korean should be categorized as a speaker-responsible language, in
which the speaker is actively responsible for the listener's understanding
of utterances (Yoon, 2009).

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