Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Impoliteness, Identity and Power in Korean: Critical Discourse Analysis and Perception Study of Impoliteness
by Lee, Keunyoung, Ph.D., University of Oregon, 2020, 180; 27744312
Abstract (Summary)

The current dissertation aims to further our understanding of the impoliteness phenomenon in language by investigating how impoliteness is connected to the construction of identity and the exercise of power in on-going interaction. To achieve the research goal, the study closely examines naturally occurring polylogal discourse from two different institutional settings in the context of Korean: the TV talk show (television entertainment discourse) and the National Assembly’s hearing (political discourse). Following the notion of relational work proposed by Locher and Watts (2005) and the bottom-up approach (i.e. impoliteness 1 or first order impoliteness) which focuses on participants’ judgements of discourse in interaction, the study argues that impoliteness is inextricably linked to participants’ co-constructions of identity as an interactional resource causing conflicts and as a linguistic index showing where co-participants identities are negotiated. The study also argues that impoliteness plays a significant role in the exercise of power in political discourse by illustrating that the successful use of impoliteness causing offense is strategically used to restrict the action environment of one’s interlocutor. The findings of the study suggests that the judgements of impoliteness are related to the institutional norms and expectations but also highly context-dependent. 

The study also expands the discussion of impoliteness to L2 learners’ perception of impoliteness in the target language by examining how L2 proficiency and cross-cultural variations affect learner’s perception of impoliteness. It is observed that there is L2 proficiency effect when the context has limited visual and prosodic features that learners can rely on for their judgements. The study identifies that Korean honorifics is one of the major causes which lead the novice learners to misjudge impolite utterances as polite because they could not understand the sarcastic use of honorifics which appear as polite on surface but convey offensive and insincere messages. The results of the study suggest that interpreting humor, jokes and sarcasm/irony is a quite difficult pragmatic task for the novice L2 learners. 

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Brown, Lucien
Commitee: Idemaru, Kaori, Jing-Schmidt, Zhuo, Sykes, Julie
School: University of Oregon
Department: Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures
School Location: United States -- Oregon
Source: DAI-A 82/2(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Linguistics, Sociolinguistics, Asian Studies
Keywords: Discursive approach, Impoliteness, L2 learners, Perception of impoliteness, Relational work
Publication Number: 27744312
ISBN: 9798664724950
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