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A Usage-Based Account on the Korean Suffix -TA in Spoken Discourse

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Abstract. This paper investigates the usage of the Korean plain speech level suffix -TA in spoken discourse and discusses the relationship among its interactional functions, the local contexts of its use, and its basic meaning. This paper employs a usage-based approach, whereby naturally occurring spoken discourse is analyzed in detail by examining how the functions of -TA are distributed and to what extent the suffix is adapted to its context through the development of local patterns. The suffix -TA functions differently in terms of sentence types: on the one hand, it serves as a reactive token, an attention-getter, a self-repair, or a stance marker by indexing the speaker's cognitive process in spon-taneous sentences. On the other hand, it can function as a way to claim speakership by indexing the on-going interactional process in non-spontaneous sentences. On the whole, compared with the intimate speech level suffix -e/a, the various functions of -TA are grounded in the representation of cognitive and interactional processing among conversation participants as the primitive form of their internalized knowledge. -TA's frequent collocations with -keyss-, mac-, and ani- explain the highly adaptive feature of -TA to its local contexts. This paper reveals that the grammatical, lexical, and interactional contexts in using -TA contribute to the emergence of its interactional functions and its basic meaning.

Keywords: Korean plain speech level suffix; basic meaning; interactional function; local context; naturally occurring spoken discourse; non-spontaneous sentence; spontaneous sentence; usage-based approach

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2008

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