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Interplay of Prosodic Features and Discourse Functions in Korean Conversation

  • Author(s): Cha, Jihyeon
  • Advisor(s): Sohn, Sung-Ock
  • et al.
Abstract

This dissertation explores the discourse functions and the prosodic features of the Korean discourse marker mwe that is derived from the interrogative pronoun mwues ‘what’ through the grammaticalization process. Within the frameworks of the interactional linguistics and the discourse-functional approach, this study addresses the importance of the positional context where mwe appears. In particular, special emphasis will be put on the final position, as it displays unique discourse functions as well as salient prosodic features. This study also investigates the tonal patterns of the mwe-attached unit based on its position within an utterance.

The findings of this study suggest that when mwe is deployed in the final position, it shows a close relationship to the immediately preceding sentence. In this case, the Korean committal suffix -ci (H. Lee, 1999) is the most frequently used ender in the preceding sentence. Furthermore, it is observed that the interactional function of mwe can be understood based on the notion of the speaker’s epistemic authority. That is, the speaker treats the propositional contents conveyed in the preceding element as a matter of no importance. Moreover, superimposing unique prosodic features onto mwe, the speaker displays his negative attitude with less degree of commitment toward the propositional contents.

By demonstrating how interlocutors of a conversation skillfully utilize mwe as a means of manipulating intonation patterns, this study ultimately sheds light on the functions of the Korean discourse marker mwe deployed in the final position from a new perspective with prosodic consideration.

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