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Interpretations of Null Subjects by Native Korean Speakers and Korean Learners of Chinese

  • The Sociolinguistic Journal of Korea
  • Abbr : 사회언어학
  • 2024, 32(2), pp.79-107
  • Publisher : The Sociolinguistic Society Of Korea
  • Research Area : Humanities > Linguistics
  • Received : May 15, 2024
  • Accepted : June 5, 2024
  • Published : June 30, 2024

Xuezhu Quan 1

1서울대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The interpretations of null subjects in Korean and Chinese are considered distinct, with Korean allowing both strict and sloppy interpretations, while Chinese only allows strict readings. This study investigated whether such an interpretational difference between Korean and Chinese appeared in Chinese learners’ instantaneous processing of null subjects in Korean and among native speakers of both languages with unlimited time and full cognition. An online experiment and offline surveys were conducted using a priming paradigm with a semantic categorization task, acceptability ratings, and multiple-choice surveys. The results of the online experiment provided partial support for distinct interpretations in Korean and Chinese. Meanwhile, offline acceptability ratings and surveys revealed that Chinese native speakers chose the strict reading in most cases, while Koreans also showed a higher acceptance of the strict reading of non-negated sentences. These findings suggest that the interpretation of null subjects can be influenced by experimental methods, grammatical constraints, and/or influences from discourse, underscoring the need for a more nuanced approach to investigating subject ellipsis in Korean and Chinese.

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