Social meanings of honorific / non-honorific alternations in Korean and Japanese
The use of honorifics in Korean and Japanese is generally dictated by social factors such as age, status, and gender (Sohn 1999, Kuno 1987). Honorifics are marked by a well-defined repertoire of linguistic elements, including address-terms, specialized vocabulary, and verbal suffixes. Depending on the relationship between the interlocutors, an honorific form is chosen over the other available forms. Recently, researchers have been questioning whether the choice is wholly dependent on the relative status, or if other factors play a role in the selection process (Strauss and Eun 2005, Dunn 2005, Yoon 2015). This study focuses on the honorifics productively encoded by verbal suffixes. Unexpectedly, continual shifts between verbal suffixes are observed in a single speech situation. Based on the analyses of media data, we identify a set of social meanings encoded by these shifts. Furthermore, we show that Silverstein’s notion of “indexical order” (Silverstein 2003) is crucial for accounting for suffix alternation.