Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: A discourse approach to Korean politeness : towards a culture-specific Confucian framework
Author: Hong, J.-O.
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2009
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
This thesis examines the inter-relationship between face, face work, and cultural values, as they apply to strategic politeness in Korean institutional settings, specifically university contexts. This study also seeks to explore issues of methodology for culture-specific politeness research, given that previous researchers either neglected cultural values, which operate sometimes outside of linguistic presentations, or used methods that prevented them from noticing the role of cultural values, which can function as another means of face redress in the construction of culture-specific politeness. The interactional aspects of language use demonstrate that the socio-pragmatics of cultural values/norms are essential elements in the construction of strategic politeness. However, previous researchers on politeness have never really looked into how culture-specific frameworks can function as both methodological and theoretical tools in the investigation of culture-specific politeness. Most politeness researchers have been mainly concerned with linguistic systems, and have paid less attention to cultural values that directly influence polite linguistic behavior. In this study, a Confucian framework was employed to explore both the linguistic forms and cultural values that are the core elements of Korean linguistic politeness. Korean politeness shows that a Confucian frame is needed as an interactional supplement to politeness research, because the cultural frame that Korean speakers use plays a decisive role in their choice of politeness forms. A Confucian framework allows analysis of how socio-cultural values interact with culture-specific cognitive dimensions. The intent in using a Confucian framework is to analyze how Confucian values can be realized through culture-specific discursive modes. Because Brown and Levinson's R variable cannot explain value oriented linguistic behavior, a Confucian cultural framework is required to interpret culture-specific linguistic behavior. In Korean contexts, social interaction would be impossible without attending to both Confucian values and sociological variables (power, distance, familiarity, gender etc.) in the negotiation of relational work. In order for a Confucian framework to become a functional and comprehensive tool, the frameworks of many researchers have also been integrated (e.g. Pan's use of a spoken discourse approach to find situationspecific usages, Locher's marked politeness, and Holmes' locally specific discursive approach) to analyze micro-level interactions that are regulated by the speaker's intentional control of cultural knowledge. An integrated Confucian framework is then used to examine how politeness is manifested in Korean institutional contexts where power and distance variables are relatively great. Korean institutional face is grounded in the intentions of participants rather than regulated by the existent social conventions and the problems this causes for Matsumo and Ide's culture-specific discernment view is also analyzed. The linguistic practices that are examined concentrate on marked linguistic behaviors such as non-conventional greetings and closings, and under polite/over polite linguistic forms. The conclusion reached is that participants employ marked linguistic forms when their goals deviate from the existent situational norms. These marked forms reveal intention, because marked linguistic forms are all inconsistent with social conventions. Most of the Korean marked forms in this study utilize Confucian values that exploit honorific usage. In Korean, culturally shared thinking heavily influences the way Korean speakers use politeness. Cultural values are functional and as such can be used pragmatically to be either face threatening or face enhancing. Moreover, when linguistic forms are not sufficient, cultural values play a critical role in acting as a verbal redress mechanism. This is particularly effective when negotiating a difficult request because cultural values are often able to provide a link between linguistic presentation and social practice. A movement away from studies of linguistic presentation alone will help researchers better understand the multi-functional aspects of linguistic politeness. Cultural knowledge can be used to influence the exercise of informal power in Korean contexts. The implications of the findings of this study reach far beyond the traditional bounds of linguistic politeness, and thus the case for a move towards the study of culture-specific values in cross-cultural or inter-cultural politeness research is clear. Korean politeness cannot be interpreted without understanding Confucian values because Confucianism is the 'common sense' that permeates all kinds of Korean social interactions.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available