Evidentiality and morality in a Korean heritage language school

Adrienne Lo


Previous work on Korean grammar has claimed that one person can not have access to another person’s thoughts, feelings or sensations, as indicated by the use of evidential markers. By looking at cases in which a teacher at a Korean heritage language school claims to read her students’ minds with a high degree of certainty, I demonstrate how expressions of epistemic stance relate to moral evaluation. Speakers portray their access to the thoughts and sensations of individuals who they deem morally worthy as more distant and uncertain. When individuals are evaluated as morally suspect, however, speakers represent these persons’ emotions, thoughts and sensations as self-evident displays of affect. This paper thus argues that evidential marking in Korean interaction is a social act through which interlocutors morally evaluate others.

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