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The Diachronic Development of the Korean Existential Verb ISS-

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Abstract. In the 15th C, the Korean existential verb had three allomorphs, is-, isi-, and si-, while Present Day Korean has one form, iss-. Using diachronic corpus data, the present article examines the historical development of the existential verb stem leading to the current form iss-. Reexamination of three previous explanations of the structural transformations of is(i)- demonstrates that, as Huh (1987) suggested, the pattern of structural change was is-/ isi- > is-/ > is-/ is.s- > iss-. With respect to the insertion of s in isi-, this article shows that the case of the existential verb should be distinguished from cases of regular "double writing (cwungchel phyoki)" based on differences in the directionality and the location of the insertion. Instead, it argues that in the 17th and 18th C., when double writing was commonly practiced, of the two allomorphs is- and isi-, is-had long been the frequent stem form and as such, assimilation of the less frequent form isi- to is-could have motivated the insertion of s into isi-.
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Keywords: double writing (cwungchel phyoki); existential verb; historical development; iss-; reanalysis

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2008

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