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The Semantic Prosody of ‘love’ in Korean and American Pop Lyrics: A Corpuslinguistic Approach

  • The Sociolinguistic Journal of Korea
  • Abbr : 사회언어학
  • 2007, 15(1), pp.47-76
  • Publisher : The Sociolinguistic Society Of Korea
  • Research Area : Humanities > Linguistics

Yong-Jin Kim 1

1숭실대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this paper is to cross-culturally analyze the meaning of 'love' in Korean and American pop lyrics of 1980's. Pointing out that the information provided by dictionaries is not sufficient to understand the cultural meaning of 'love', the corpus analytic method of semantic prosody is introduced as it is explicated by Hunston (2002). Using this semantic prosody technique, three different sets of pop lyrics are analyzed with WordSmith Tools software. The three data sets, one Korean and two American, represent 150 pop lyrics. Specifically, these texts are analyzed in terms of distribution patterns of 'love' in the lyrics. First, the modification pattern of 'love' is investigated. It is found that the Korean data is significantly skewed toward negative expressions, producing negative semantic prosody of 'love', while the American data which reflect American culture is overwhelmingly skewed toward positive expressions, producing positive semantic prosody. That is, Koreans experience 'love' in a fairly negative terms in their pop music, while Americans basically treat it positively. Interestingly, the American pop lyrics popular with the Korean public show in-between characteristics. Next, the predication patterns of 'love' are investigated when it plays the role of subject NP. The result again shows that these two cultures define 'love' drastically differently in their pop music. In sum, the semantic prosody technique proved to be useful as an analytic method for cross-cultural studies.

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