A Discourse-Pragmatic Study of com in Korean

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Ahn, Kyungja

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서울대학교 언어교육원
어학연구, Vol.45 No.2, pp. 257-281
comKoreanquantifierdiscourse markerpolitenessfacethreatening actspragmatic functionpragmatic awareness
This study examines the pragmatic functions of com through an analysis of a Korean database of scripted, spontaneous spoken, and internet data. The findings revealed that com is used more frequently as a discourse marker than as a quantifier, indicating that although com retains the conceptual and etymological meaning of smallness, its situational and contextual meanings have evolved. Concerning com as a quantifier, this study found that whereas com usually means 'a little', there are instances when it acts as an intensifier meaning 'very' or 'really'. In addition, it was found that while com as a discourse marker frequently functions as a mitigator, it sometimes serves as an intensification marker; depending on the context, com can weaken or strengthen the force of face-threatening acts (FTAs) such as requests and negative evaluations. Both as a mitigator and as an intensification marker, com at times helps to focus on its antecedent or reveals a speaker's stance. In particular, com as an intensification marker is used to indicate that a speaker's expectation has not been met. The findings from this study have important pedagogical implications for teaching and learning Korean as a foreign/second language, specifically for raising Korean language learners' pragmatic awareness regarding com.
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Language Education Institute (언어교육원)Language Research (어학연구)Language Research (어학연구) Volume 45 Number 1/2 (2009)
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