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Title: A comparative study of honorific systems in North and South Korea : shifts since 1950
Author: Shin, Moun Kyoung
ISNI:       0000 0004 7964 5820
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis focuses on the honorification systems as proxies for the social distribution of power in the Korean peninsula. This serves as a great natural experiment to observe the process of language variation. The paucity of contact and significant political divergence between North and South Korea since 1950 has been closely mirrored in language use. Language variation in South Korea conforms to conventional theories of language variation. By contrast, the process of language variation in North Korea is unique as prescriptive norms are mandated by the government. In this study, I have used the honorification systems of speech levels, subject honorifics and address terms as points of focus. I have used the prescriptive norms set before the division of the Korean peninsula in 1945 as a benchmark to test linguistic variation. In South Korea I have applied the methodology used by Labov (1972b) in New York City department stores. My data suggests that the establishment of a new consumer culture is changing the way that the honorification systems are used - increasing use of honorification systems towards consumers marks a strong shift towards deference or politeness. On the contrary, the strict honorification systems in North Korea are focused on showing respect to the great leader. The evidence from my interviews with North Korean defectors shows that government-issued language rules regarding the verbal honorific marker -si- and the nominal suffix -kkeyse are perfectly observed in relation to the North Korean leader. The wide variety of address terms, including tongmwu and tongci (roughly 'comrade'), systematically and methodically portray the hierarchical positions in relation to the political party. The speech levels in North Korea have maintained much of their integrity from pre-division Korea as displayed by the wide variety of speech levels, observed in my data.
Supervisor: Sells, Peter Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available