Topic and focus constructions in spoken Korean

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Title: Topic and focus constructions in spoken Korean
Author: Oh, Chisung, 1969-
Abstract: This study discusses topic and focus constructions in spoken Korean within the framework of information structure . Information structure is a part of grammar that deals with the relation between linguistic forms and the mental states of speakers and hearers . Since the different formal realizations of topic and focus constructions in Korean are due to differences in speakers' assumptions about the mental states of hearers , research on Korean topic and focus constructions falls under the proper domain of information structure . Five different topic constructions in Korean are reviewed and their discourse contexts are analyzed ; zero pronouns , bare NPs , and right -dislocated NPs are generally used for discourse -active topic referents , and the maliya -construction and nun -marked NPs are generally used for topic referents that are not discourse -active . Sometimes , active topic referents are also marked with - -nun when the topic referents have more salient topics already established in the discourse or speakers are considering potential alternatives to the active topic referents . Topics are divided into ratified and ungratified topics according to whether their status as topics is assumed to be taken for granted by hearers . Among the five topic constructions in Korean , zero pronouns , bare NPs and right -dislocated NPs express ratified topics , while the maliya -construction and nunmarked topics express unratified topics . The marker - -ka , which has been long regarded as a subject indicator , is reanalyzed , and it is suggested that - -ka marks not only the subject but also argument focus and sentence focus . Accessible or active referents can sometimes be marked with - -ka , constituting sentence -focus constructions . In those constructions , the propositional content of the sentences expresses some unexpected or surprising event . Also , frequent occurrences of the maker - -ka in presupposed subordinate clauses are examined , and it is suggested that - -ka can be used as a mere subject indicator , losing its function of indicating focus in presupposed clauses with topic -comment construals , in which there is no actual focus .
URI: http : / /hdl .handle .net /2152 /3133
Date: 2008-08-28

Citation

Topic and focus constructions in spoken Korean. Doctoral dissertation, The University of Texas at Austin. Available electronically from http : / /hdl .handle .net /2152 /3133 .

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