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Chapter 2 outlines the history of the Korean language, starting from the internal reconstruction of proto-Korean through Old Korean, Middle Korean, Modern Korean and Contemporary Korean. Old Korean designates the language of Silla up until the end of the Unified Silla period in the tenth century. Middle Korean covers the Koryo (Early Middle Korean) and Choson (Late Middle Korean) periods up until the end of the sixteenth century. This relatively brief period has also seen events of great linguistic importance: the Japanese colonial period (1909 to 1945), which saw the importation of Japanese loans and loans from Western languages through Japanese; the Korean War, resulting in the division of the two Koreas; and finally the turbulent postwar period, which has seen the final disappearance of Chinese characters in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the near complete disappearance of them in the Republic of Korea, and the ever greater impact of neologisms and loans from electronic media and the internet.
Chapter 7 deals with syntax proper. In this chapter, we discuss Category 2 (verbal and adjectival) formation, basic sentence structure, and the passive and causative patterns. We describe five basic patterns of predication: verbal predicates, adjectival predicates, nominal (copular) predicates, auxiliaries, and irregular predicates. We begin with basic sentence patterns, then introduce “scrambling” phenomena (that is, variations in word order), clausal embedding, and other complex sentence patterns. For both passive and causative constructions, we describe the basic shape of the patterns, the three-way distinction of lexical, morphological, and syntactic passives and causatives, and major syntactic characteristics of each. As with lexical passives, lexical causatives are underived. Morphological causatives involve seven allomorphs, four homophonous with the suffixes of the morphological passive. We survey the four patterns of syntactic causatives, and explain the major syntactic differences between morphological and syntactic causatives. We show that from an areal/typological perspective, Korean fits the North Asian pattern of primarily causativizing (transitivizing) languages.
Chapter 8 examines the syntax–semantics interface in Korean. In this chapter, we focus on negation, topic/focus marking, tense/aspect/modality (TAM), pronouns and anaphora, and ellipsis. We discuss lexical, morphological, and syntactic negation. We illustrate differences in the semantic scope of pre- and postverbal negation. We discuss the syntax and interpretation of negative polarity items (NPIs). We investigate topic and focus marking, examining prosodic, morphological, and syntactic devices for marking information structure. In the section on TAM, we demonstrate properties and features of tense and aspect marking and examine the relation between modality and evidentiality. Korean distinguishes past, present, and future tense, with the latter arguably a modal. We introduce two major types of aspect which are sometimes construed as a portmanteau expression. For mood, we introduce indicative, conjectural, and retrospective patterns, the latter sometimes argued to be an evidential. We then turn to the syntax and semantics of nominal reference, surveying personal and deictic as well as anaphoric pronouns. Finally, we discuss ellipsis and zero anaphora patterns.
Chapter 9 discusses the relationship between language and society. We describe five areas of sociolinguistic variation: regional (dialects), speech style, honorifics, terms of address, and language policy. Six major regional dialects are described in terms of lexicon, phonology, and morphosyntax: four of South Korea and two of North Korea. We introduce four different speech styles and their usage, together with two now archaic forms. The honorific system is one of the unique features of Korean. We discuss the three basic patterns of honorification, involving the relationship between the speaker, hearer, and referent. We also introduce two patterns that stand aside from the canonical honorific patterns: Apjonpop and indirect honorifics. ‘Terms of address’ refers to how the addressee in a context of social communication is designated. Term of address choice can be extremely complicated. We illustrate second pronouns, titles with proper names, and kinship terms. Finally, we present four major issues that have been the focus of language policy in the Koreas: use of Hangul, language standardization, general language policy, and romanization.
Chapter 6 focuses on the interface between morphology and syntax. We discuss case, postpositions, delimiters, nominalization, and numerals. We look at nominative, accusative, and genitive cases, describing their distribution and allomorphy and devote special attention to contexts where nominative and accusative usage is interchangeable or nearly so. We introduce the case marking postpositions: dative, locative, direction, goal, source, conjunctive, and disjunctive. The three most common delimiters – particles marking association with focus – are introduced with their properties. We discuss three nominalization processes, derived from four distinct parts of speech. We present constructions related to numerality, including cardinal numbers, ordinal numbers, numeral classifier phrases, and the marking of plurality. As Korean speakers have been using Chinese characters from early in the Common Era, the Sino-Korean stratum has heavily impacted Korean morphosyntax, and we see this impact particularly in numerality. We describe the well-known “ubiquitous” nature of the Korean plural marker tul, which appears not only on pluralized NPs, but on other parts of speech as well.
Chapter 4 introduces the phonetics and phonology of Korean. In this realm as well, Korean is frequently cited as an unusual example of a language with a three-way distinction among obstruents without a contrast in voicing. In recent years this property has attracted renewed attention, as the aspiration contrast appears to be giving way to a prosodic or tonal distinction. Korean is thus a rare example of an intensively studied, major world language undergoing the process of tonogenesis. Korean is also notable for its processes of consonant cluster reduction, which give rise to a striking difference between underlying and surface forms in many environments. Finally, many dialects of Korean have lexical pitch accent. We discuss the differences between these varieties and the prosody of standard Korean.
Chapter 3 covers the way the Korean language is and has been written. The primary topic is Hangul, the writing system invented in the fifteenth century and now a symbol of Korean culture and language. The Hangul system is renowned for the elegance and rationality of its design. Alone among national writing systems in the world, it combines alphabetic and syllabic features. We cover the background and controversies surrounding the invention of Hangul and describe its important linguistic features. But we also stress the continuities between Hangul and the writing technologies that preceded and surrounded it. These include the system known as kugyol, which was devised in the Silla period as a way of glossing a Chinese text to read it in Korean. Like kugyol, the Hangul alphabet was originally devised to make texts in Chinese characters accessible to Korean readers. Although far superior to kugyol and, unlike its predecessor, designed as an all-purpose writing system, Hangul retained a central design feature – the ability to write the sounds of Korean as a syllabic block, thus occupying graphic space in the same way as other written languages of the region.
Chapter 10 examines the interaction between language and gender. In this chapter, we describe how language and gender interact in Korean, in the realms of lexicon, phonology, syntax, and discourse. We distinguish five categories of lexical distinction: non-male terms, non-female terms, male-only terms, female-only terms, and terms for both male and female. In terms of phonological differences, women’s speech is characterized by a rising intonation with increased tensing and aspiration, while men tend to use falling intonation with less pronounced tensing or aspiration. With regard to syntactic differences, men use more declarative sentences and deferential speech style, while women use more interrogative sentences, polite speech style, tag questions, adverbials, and deixis. For discourse differences, women use more indirect speech style, hedges, obscure expressions, and cooperative communication, while men use more direct speech style, a difference which may be related to differences in power status in society.
Chapter 5 describes word formation in Korean. We focus on three major aspects of Korean morphology: (1) morphological types and properties, (2) affixation, and (3) compounding. We introduce the approach of Korean grammarians in classifying major parts of speech. They distinguish Category 1 (Nominals: nouns, pronouns and numerals), Category 2 (Predicatives: verbs and adjectives, which can function in Korean as predicates on their own), and Category 3 (Modifiers: determiners, adnominals, adverbials, and particles). We go on to examine bound morphemes, including the bound stems in Category 2, particles in Category 3, and dependent nouns. We also discuss affixation and compounding processes, distinguishing derivational and inflectional affixation and surveying co-compounding/sub-compounding.
Chapter 1 (Introduction) outlines the topics of Chapters 2–9 of the book: the history of the language, writing, phonology and phonetics, morphology, morphosyntax, syntax, syntax and its interface with semantics, language and society, and language and gender.