초록 close

Kim, HeeSook. 2003. A Paradoxical Usage of Kinship Address Terms in Modern Korean. The Sociolinguistic Journal of Korea, 11(1). Nobody can doubt that South Korea has been rapidly modernizing not only economically but also socially. It is not too much to say that almost all facets of the South Korean society have been under what modernization is supposed to bring about such as openness, simplification, etc. Language is not an exception. However, curiously, the address terms used in modern Korean seems to get complicated rather than simplified; simply put, people tend to apply much more address terms than before. For this phenomenon, South Koreans' widespread adoption of those terms which were used among the family members in the pre-modern period or their derivatives outside their families appears greatly responsible. In this paper, I try to tackle this puzzle. I suggest that we can attribute it to the Korean linguistic characteristic of not revealing subjects explicitly, the proliferation of small businesses, the still influential highly complex honorific system and the general tendency to pursue gender-neutral address terms in modern society. With this model, we could also forecast that at least in the short run, the seemingly contradictory trend of complicating address terms in Korean under ever-simplifying social hierarchy would continue.