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Question Tags in Korean Conversation: Displaying and Soliciting Empathy for Managing Delicate Action

  • The Sociolinguistic Journal of Korea
  • Abbr : 사회언어학
  • 2023, 31(4), pp.149-173
  • Publisher : The Sociolinguistic Society Of Korea
  • Research Area : Humanities > Linguistics
  • Received : November 13, 2023
  • Accepted : December 12, 2023
  • Published : December 31, 2023

Kim Kyu-hyun 1

1경희대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

From the perspective of conversation analysis, this study analyzes utterances formatted with a question tag constructed as the tag-type clause kuci, “Isn’t it?.” Based on an examination of naturally occurring talk-in-interaction, it is argued that question tags, though generally intended to be a recipiency-mobilizing resource, serve primarily as a resource for empathy display and are geared toward retroactively managing the various “delicate” actions that their host utterance implements. Formulated as post-predicate elements, their use indicates the speaker’s trust that the recipient will provide an affiliative response by sharing the empathic stance exhibited in their host utterance. The kuci-speaker’s orientation toward soliciting the recipient’s affiliative uptake is frequently reciprocated by the recipient, who registers the “delicate character” of the kuci-marked utterance’s action by producing variously “nuanced” responses, for example, in a way that is empathically other-attentive, obliquely affiliative, or mildly resistant.

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