Korean general extenders tunci ha and kena ha ‘or something’: Approximation, hedging, and pejorative stance in cross-linguistic comparison

Minju Kim

Abstract

Using natural conversation corpora, I demonstrate that the Korean x-tunci ha ‘x-or do’ and x-kena ha ‘x-or do’, which originally list options (e.g., ‘x or y do’) have emerged as independent constructions that can indicate approximation, epistemic uncertainty, tentativeness, and even polite hedging. I argue that these Korean “general extenders” (Overstreet 1999Overstreet, M. 1999Whales, Candlelight, and Stuff like That: General Extenders in English Discourse, New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar) followed a similar (inter)subjectification process to English x-or something and Japanese x-tari suru ‘x-or do.’ I also illustrate how these two Korean general extenders specialize in different hedging strategies.

Ironically, Korean tunci ha and Japanese tari suru can also convey a speaker’s negative affective stance. I demonstrate that tunci ha was frequently used in making non-imposing suggestions (hedging) and obtained its negative affect in the context of suggesting an obvious but untried solution (i.e., the frustration of the suggesting speaker). This result differs from Suzuki (2008) 2008 “Expressivity of Vagueness: Alienation in the verb-tari suru Construction.” Japanese Language and Literature 42(1):157–169.Google Scholar’s argument of the Japanese case which attributes this development to a speaker’s non-committal attitude.

Keywords:
Publication history
Table of contents

1.Introduction

Using natural conversation corpora (142 audio-recorded conversations), I examine in this study the Korean constructions with tunci ‘or’ and kena ‘or’, when they combine with only one disjunct instead of the typical two (e.g., ‘x or’ instead of ‘x or y’). I demonstrate that the constructions x-tunci ha ‘x-or do’ and x-kena ha ‘x-or do’, which originally list options, have grammaticalized and acquired new discourse-pragmatic functions such as indicating approximation, epistemic uncertainty, tentativeness, polite hedging, and even the speaker’s pejorative stance. I also argue that this developmental pattern is comparable to those of English x or something and Japanese x-tari suru ‘x-or do’.

Example (1) presents typical disjunctive sentences with tunci ‘or’ and kena ‘or’, which take the form of [x-or y-or] [main verb]. Tunci ‘or’ and kena ‘or’ are different from English or in that they require a main verb. In (1) [po-tunci tut-tunci] [ha] ([see-or hear-or] [do]) simply means ‘see or hear’ and the general verb ha ‘do’ is used as the main verb. Example (2) presents the construction I investigate in this study, where tunci ‘or’ and kena ‘or’ combine with only one disjunct [x-or] [main verb]. The construction [x-or] [main verb] can implicate a vague category based on x, translatable as ‘x or something.’ In (2), the main verb is again ha ‘do;’ [nakse-lul ha-tunci] [ha] ([scribble-or] [do]) can be translated as ‘scribbling or something (like that)’ and implicate a vague category of ‘scribbling’ which includes drawings, graffiti and other similar activities.

(1)

Disjunctive sentences with tunci ‘or’ and kena ‘or’

a. po-tunci tut-tunci ha-n ke-eytayhay iyakiha-e-cwu-sey-yo
b. po-kena tut-kena ha-n ke-eytayhay iyakiha-e-cwu-sey-yo
  see-or hear-or do-rel:past thing-about talk-conn-give-hon-pol
‘Please talk about things that you saw or heard.’
(2)

Disjunctive general extender use of tunci ‘or’ and kena ‘or’

a. pyek-ey nakse-lul ha-tunci ha-yse-nun an-tway-yo
b. pyek-ey nakse-lul ha-kena ha-yse-nun an-tway-yo
  wall-on scribble-acc do-or do-conn-top not-good-pol
‘One should not do scribbling or something like that on the wall.’

Besides x-tunci ha ‘x-or do’ and x-kena ha ‘x-or do’ shown in (2), I also examine four variations where kuleh ‘do/be like that’ or ileh ‘do/be like this’ substitutes ha ‘do’ (i.e., x-tunci kuleh, x-kena kuleh. x-tunci ileh, x-kena ileh).

These disjunctive constructions are aberrant in that tunci ‘or’ and kena ‘or’ combine with a single item. This testifies to the fact that they have become independent constructions with their own functions, distinctive from their original listing function. Among the varied functions that these constructions carry, what especially draws our attention is the ironic dual function of marking both polite hedging and contemptuous feeling, as shown in (3) and (4) respectively. In (3), Shin is talking with his troubled girlfriend; he uses tunci kule to attenuate the impact of the pathological case of “having a depression disorder” (c.f., propositional hedging in Fraser 2010Fraser, B. 2010 “Pragmatic Competence: The Case of Hedging.” In New Approaches to Hedging, ed. by Kaltenböck, G., Mihatsch, W. and Schneider, S., 15–34. Emerald: Bingley. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). On the other hand, in (4) tunci ha expresses the speaker’s contemptuous feeling. Chan is frustrated with the internet service in his house and complains to himself, “I should cut the internet connection or something.” Chan adds tunci ha specifically to convey his contemptuous feelings about the problem.

(3)

(Polite hedging) (LCD 5546)

1=> Shin:
wuwul-
depre-
ni
your
mal-taylo
word-as
icey
now
wu-
de-
wuwul-cung-ey
depression-disorder-in
kelli-tunci::
caught-tunci
ung
ung
kulay-to;.
do.like:that-even.if

‘Even if depres- as you say you now have depression disorder or something’

2  
sasil-un (0.2)
reality-top
naaci-nun
improve-rel
ke-n
thing-top
hana-to
one-even
eps-ketun?
not.exist-dm

‘in reality, there is not a single thing that improves,’

(4)

(Contemptuous feeling) (NA 31)

Chan:
.hh
 
internet-ul
internet-acc
kkunh-tunci
cut-tunci
hay-ya-ci
do-should-cmt
cincca ssi:.
really darn

‘I should cut the internet connection or something, really darn.’

In this study I refer to the constructions shown in (2) through (4) as “general extenders” adopting Overstreet (1999)Overstreet, M. 1999Whales, Candlelight, and Stuff like That: General Extenders in English Discourse, New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar. Overstreet coined the term to describe English expressions such as or something, or something like that. and and stuff. and most recent studies continue to adopt this term (e.g., Overstreet and Yule 1997Overstreet, M. and Yule, G. 1997 “On Being Inexplicit and Stuff in Contemporary American English,” Journal of English Linguistics 25: 250–258. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Cheshire 2007Cheshire, J. 2007 “Discourse Variation, Grammaticalisation and Stuff like That.” Journal of Sociolinguistics 11(2): 155–193. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Tagliamonte and Denis 2010Tagliamonte, S. A. and Denis, D. 2010 “The Stuff of Change: General Extenders in Toronto, Canada.” Journal of English Linguistics 38(4):335–368. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). Earlier studies labelled these English expressions “set-marking tags” (Dines 1980Dines, E. R. 1980 “Variation in Discourse – ‘and stuff like that’.” Language in Society 9: 13–33. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), “vague category identifiers (Channell 1994Channell, J. 1994Vague language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar), and other varied terms that identify their function as implicating a vague category based on the “named exemplar” (Overstreet 1999Overstreet, M. 1999Whales, Candlelight, and Stuff like That: General Extenders in English Discourse, New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar, 11) (i.e., exemplification). Overstreet proposed to replace these terms with a “more open term” which can allow for a “broader analysis” since these expressions can carry many more diverse functions in conversational interactions (ibid, 12). She coined the term “general extenders” since these expressions are “general” (e.g., or something instead of or something stupid and bureaucratic like that) and “extend” otherwise grammatically complete utterances (ibid, 3–4).11. Overstreet (1999)Overstreet, M. 1999Whales, Candlelight, and Stuff like That: General Extenders in English Discourse, New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar labels those starting with or as “disjunctive general extenders” and those starting with and, “adjunctive general extenders”. She also briefly mentions that similar general extenders could be found in languages other than English (ibid: 8–9). In this study, I will adopt this term since, similar to the English case, the Korean disjunctive constructions under question are “general” and also “extend” an utterance that is grammatically complete. Furthermore, instead of creating a new term, using a recognizable term can facilitate cross-linguistic studies on this topic. I will label those with tunci ‘or’ as tunci general extenders and those with kena ‘or’ as kena general extenders.

I will draw on the theoretical framework of grammaticalization (Hopper and Traugott 2003Hopper, P. J. and Traugott, E. C. 2003Grammaticalization. 2nd edition, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), which is predicated on the premise that grammar emerges from usage (“emergent grammar” Hopper 1987). In particular, I will draw on recent studies on subjectification and intersubjectification (Traugott 2003Traugott, E. C. 2003 “From Subjectification to Intersubjectification.” In Motives for Language Change. ed. by Hickey, R. 124–139, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2010 2010 “Revisiting Subjectification and Intersubjectification.” In Subjectification, Intersubjectification and Grammaticalization. ed. by Davidse, K., Vandelanotte, L. and Cuyckens, H. 29–70, Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.Google Scholar, 2014 2014 “Intersubjectification and Clause Periphery.” In Intersubjectivity and Intersubjectification in Grammar and Discourse: Theoretical and Descriptive Advances (Vol. 65). ed. by Brems, L., Ghesquière, L. and Van de Velde, F., 7–28, Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar; Brems et al. 2014Brems, L., Ghesquière, L. and Van de Velde, F. eds. 2014Intersubjectivity and Inter-subjectification in Grammar and Discourse: Theoretical and Descriptive Advances. Vol. 65. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar). Grammaticalization can be defined as a process whereby lexical items and constructions come to obtain grammatical functions (Hopper and Traugott 2003Hopper, P. J. and Traugott, E. C. 2003Grammaticalization. 2nd edition, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, xv). In a similar manner, subjectification has been defined as a process of change whereby linguistic constructions with more concrete, objective meaning “giving rise to expressions of the speaker’s beliefs and stance toward what is said” (Traugott 2014 2014 “Intersubjectification and Clause Periphery.” In Intersubjectivity and Intersubjectification in Grammar and Discourse: Theoretical and Descriptive Advances (Vol. 65). ed. by Brems, L., Ghesquière, L. and Van de Velde, F., 7–28, Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar, 9). Intersubjectification differs from subjectification in that the resulting functions encode “the speaker’s attention to the cognitive stances and social identities of the addressee, most especially to their ‘face’ or ‘self-image.’” These can include development of politeness markers and face-threatening expressions (Traugott 2010 2010 “Revisiting Subjectification and Intersubjectification.” In Subjectification, Intersubjectification and Grammaticalization. ed. by Davidse, K., Vandelanotte, L. and Cuyckens, H. 29–70, Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.Google Scholar, 33).

The Korean general extenders which originally list options and choices (i.e., concrete and objective meaning) have obtained a new function of marking polite hedging (intersubjectification). Furthermore, the tunci general extenders have come to encode the speaker’s contemptuous stance (subjectified use); its use can be face-threatening if the speaker’s contemptuous utterance is directed at the addressee (intersubjectified use). Hence, the development of Korean general extenders can be accounted for as instances of (inter)subjectification.

The purpose of the study is twofold. First, using natural conversational data, I will demonstrate various discourse-pragmatic functions of Korean general extenders such as indicating approximation, epistemic uncertainty, tentativeness, polite hedging, and contemptuous feelings. I will also illustrate functional and distributional differences between the tunci and kena general extenders. These Korean general extenders have never been discussed as independent constructions, let alone being acknowledged as having their own functions. In doing so, I will also argue that these Korean general extenders, Japanese x-tari suru (‘x-or do’) and English x-or something followed similar developmental pathways. Although previous studies on English general extenders describe their acquisition of approximation marking and hedging functions as resulting from grammaticalization (e.g., Erman 1995Erman, B. 1995 “Grammaticalization in Progress: The Case of or something .” In Papers from the XVth Scandinavian Conference of Linguistics, ed. by Inger, M., Simonsen, HG. and Lødrup, H., 136–147. Oslo, Norway: Department of Linguistics, University of Oslo.Google Scholar; Cheshire 2007Cheshire, J. 2007 “Discourse Variation, Grammaticalisation and Stuff like That.” Journal of Sociolinguistics 11(2): 155–193. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Tagliamonte and Denis 2010Tagliamonte, S. A. and Denis, D. 2010 “The Stuff of Change: General Extenders in Toronto, Canada.” Journal of English Linguistics 38(4):335–368. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), (inter)subjectification as another important process has not been discussed. Japanese tari suru has to my knowledge not been discussed in this light. Drawing on the theoretical frameworks of grammaticalization and (inter)subjectification, I will compare Korean general extenders with English or something and Japanese tari suru to point out that they all followed a similar developmental process, including (inter)subjectification, in the sense that they (a) are originally a part of listing constructions (‘x or y’), (b) came to implicate the vague category to which the one listed item belongs (‘a vague category of x’), (c) then obtained interpersonal functions such as polite hedging; and (d) finally, in the cases of Korean and Japanese, have also come to convey a speaker’s negative, contemptuous stance (c.f., Suzuki 2008 2008 “Expressivity of Vagueness: Alienation in the verb-tari suru Construction.” Japanese Language and Literature 42(1):157–169.Google Scholar).

Secondly, I will investigate the counterintuitive syncretism of tunci general extenders marking both polite hedging and pejorative feeling. Suzuki (1998Suzuki, S. 1998 “Pejorative Connotation: A Case of Japanese.” In Discourse Markers: Descriptions and Theory, ed. by Jucker, A. H. and Ziv, Y. 261–276, Amsterdam: John Benjamins. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2008 2008 “Expressivity of Vagueness: Alienation in the verb-tari suru Construction.” Japanese Language and Literature 42(1):157–169.Google Scholar) observed that Japanese tari suru ‘or do’ can similarly carry both functions. She explained that when speakers use x-tari suru ‘x or something’, they signal their unwillingness to fully commit to x. “Such reluctance to commit to x can be interpreted as contempt towards x” (2008, 163). Although intuitive and at first sight convincing, her argument is not well grounded in data as her studies do not really examine naturally occurring conversations. Furthermore, in her account, the new meaning is engendered through a conceptual extension. However, linguistic studies have demonstrated that new meanings typically arise in local contexts and become conventionalized through frequent use (e.g., Hopper and Traugott 2003Hopper, P. J. and Traugott, E. C. 2003Grammaticalization. 2nd edition, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Traugott and Dasher 2005Traugott, E. C. and Dasher, R. B. 2005Regularity in Semantic Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar; Bybee 2006Bybee, J. L. 2006 “From usage to grammar: The mind’s Response to Repetition.” Language 82(4): 711–733. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Bybee 2010 2010Language, Usage and Cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CrossrefGoogle Scholar).22.For instance, the cross-linguistically common development of “go” to the future marker was at first explained as conceptual extension from movement in space to movement in time (e.g., Emanatian 1992Emanatian, M. 1992 “Chagga ‘come’ and ‘go’: Metaphor and the Development of Tense-Aspect.” Studies in Language 16(1): 1–33. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). Bybee et al. (1994)Bybee, J. L., Revere, P. and Pagliuca, W. 1994The Evolution of Grammar: Tense, Aspect, and Modality in the languages of the world. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar, however, demonstrated that “be going to” obtained the future meaning through its frequent use in purposive context (e.g., “I am going to marry Jane”). In Korean, only tunci general extenders can express deprecatory feelings, although both tunci and kena general extenders can express vague approximate meaning. I will demonstrate that the contemptuous feeling of tunci general extenders emerge and conventionalize due to its frequent use in the context of making suggestions.

I use three sets of audio-recorded natural conversational data. The first dataset is the CallFriend corpus produced in the late-1990s by the Linguistic Data Consortium (hereafter LDC). It consists of 100 telephone conversations, each lasting for approximately 20 – 30 minutes. The second dataset is the Sejong corpus compiled by the National Academy of the Korean Language (hereafter NA). From this corpus, I use 29 casual conversations that are all face-to-face conversations except for one telephone conversation. Lengths of the conversations range between 40 and 120 minutes. Lastly, I use my own Korean data, which consists of 13 face-to-face casual conversations between friends. They were recorded in the late 1990s, each lasting about 30 minutes.

The paper is organized as follows. Section 2 introduces previous studies on English or something and Japanese tari suru. Section 3 discusses distributional skews in the uses of tunci and kena general extenders found in the conversational data. Section 4 examines the tunci general extenders and Section 5 the kena general extenders. Section 6 presents concluding remarks.

2.Previous studies on English or something and Japanese tari suru

English or something has been studied with or something like that, and stuff, and that and other similar expressions, under various names such as “set marking tags” (Dines 1980Dines, E. R. 1980 “Variation in Discourse – ‘and stuff like that’.” Language in Society 9: 13–33. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), “vague category identifiers” (Channell 1994Channell, J. 1994Vague language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar), “approximation markers” (Erman 1995Erman, B. 1995 “Grammaticalization in Progress: The Case of or something .” In Papers from the XVth Scandinavian Conference of Linguistics, ed. by Inger, M., Simonsen, HG. and Lødrup, H., 136–147. Oslo, Norway: Department of Linguistics, University of Oslo.Google Scholar), and “vague category markers” (Vaughan et al. 2017Vaughan, E., McCarthy, M., and Clancy, B. 2017 “Vague Category Markers as Turn-final Items in Irish English.” World Englishes 36(2): 208–223. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). As the terms suggest, these expressions were considered to render utterances vague and less specific, and have not been typically considered prestigious expressions. Dine (1980Dines, E. R. 1980 “Variation in Discourse – ‘and stuff like that’.” Language in Society 9: 13–33. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 18) for instance observes that in Australian English these “putative ill-favoured forms” occur with higher frequency in working class conversations and are stigmatized for being inexplicit.

Recently, usage-based grammar books (e.g., Biber et al. 1999Biber, D., Johansson, S., Leech, G., Conrad, S. and Finegan, E. 1999Grammar of Spoken and Written English. Edinburgh: Pearson Education Limited.Google Scholar; Carter and McCarthy 2006Carter, R. and McCarthy, M. 2006Cambridge Grammar of English: A Comprehensive Guide; Spoken and Written English Grammar and Usage. Stuttgart: Ernst Klett Sprachen.Google Scholar, 202) have started to present these constructions in a more positive light, seen as a necessary tool when the speaker cannot or does not need to make an exhaustive list. For example, Biber (1999Biber, D., Johansson, S., Leech, G., Conrad, S. and Finegan, E. 1999Grammar of Spoken and Written English. Edinburgh: Pearson Education Limited.Google Scholar, 112–3) describes that they “fit in with the communicative purposes of conversation, where complete explicitness may not be necessary, and some degree of vagueness may actually be desirable.”

Going one step further, some recent studies have argued that in the actual contexts of use, these expressions often carry interpersonal functions. To begin, Overstreet (1999Overstreet, M. 1999Whales, Candlelight, and Stuff like That: General Extenders in English Discourse, New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar, 27) rebuts Jefferson’s (1990Jefferson, G. 1990 “List Construction as a Task and Resource.” In Interaction Competence ed. by Psathas, G., 63–92. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America.Google Scholar, 66) proposal that these expressions serve as a “methodic solution to the problem of three-partedness.” According to Jefferson, interactants who are aware that lists should occur in three parts utilize them to fill the third slot when they fall short (e.g., when trying to remember someone’s name, one could say “Teddy or Tom or something”). Overstreet, however, observes that these general extenders occur as third parts in only about 20% in her data; as much as 74% occur in the format of [1 item + general extender]. Furthermore, she stresses that although these general extenders can imply a vague category based on the one named exemplar, as previous studies (e.g., Dines 1980Dines, E. R. 1980 “Variation in Discourse – ‘and stuff like that’.” Language in Society 9: 13–33. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 22) suggest, these categories are often “ad hoc” categories (Barsalou 1983Barsalou, L. 1983 “Ad hoc Categories.” Memory and Cognition 11: 211–227. CrossrefGoogle Scholar) that are created spontaneously in the unfolding of conversation “based on a similar background experience of the world rather than any objective knowledge base” (Overstreet 1999Overstreet, M. 1999Whales, Candlelight, and Stuff like That: General Extenders in English Discourse, New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar, 145). She then argues that the interpretation of general extenders is necessarily subjective and when examined within the context of use, they primarily perform interpersonal functions.

Overstreet (1999)Overstreet, M. 1999Whales, Candlelight, and Stuff like That: General Extenders in English Discourse, New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar and other previous studies have identified the following three interpersonal functions of or something. First, it can indicate or evoke solidarity, since its use is warranted by speakers’ assumption of shared knowledge and experience (e.g., “intersubjectivity” Overstreet and Yule 1997Overstreet, M. and Yule, G. 1997 “On Being Inexplicit and Stuff in Contemporary American English,” Journal of English Linguistics 25: 250–258. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 253–256, Cheshire 2007Cheshire, J. 2007 “Discourse Variation, Grammaticalisation and Stuff like That.” Journal of Sociolinguistics 11(2): 155–193. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 181–2). Second, it can approximate or qualify the content of the utterance, often co-occurring with epistemic uncertainty markers such as “I don’t know” (e.g., Overstreet 1999Overstreet, M. 1999Whales, Candlelight, and Stuff like That: General Extenders in English Discourse, New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar, 112–115; Erman 1995Erman, B. 1995 “Grammaticalization in Progress: The Case of or something .” In Papers from the XVth Scandinavian Conference of Linguistics, ed. by Inger, M., Simonsen, HG. and Lødrup, H., 136–147. Oslo, Norway: Department of Linguistics, University of Oslo.Google Scholar, 144; Cheshire 2007Cheshire, J. 2007 “Discourse Variation, Grammaticalisation and Stuff like That.” Journal of Sociolinguistics 11(2): 155–193. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 31). Third, it can function as a hedging device, often occurring in suggestions, proposals, and requests to indicate the speaker’s non-imposing attitude (e.g., Overstreet 1999Overstreet, M. 1999Whales, Candlelight, and Stuff like That: General Extenders in English Discourse, New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar, 104–107; Cheshire 2007Cheshire, J. 2007 “Discourse Variation, Grammaticalisation and Stuff like That.” Journal of Sociolinguistics 11(2): 155–193. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 182). Example (5) illustrates this. By adding or something. Julie indicates that she does not intend to impose her proposal and is open to entertaining other possibilities.

(5)

(Polite hedging)

  1. Julie: A/ /n’ we could even go

  2. Donna: (But –)

  3. Julie: for a walk or somethin’ / / if ya wanna go –

  4. Donna: Do I need to bring anything? (Overstreet 1999Overstreet, M. 1999Whales, Candlelight, and Stuff like That: General Extenders in English Discourse, New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar, 106)

Japanese tari suru ‘or do’ is very similar to Korean tunci ha and kena ha both in its structure and function. Examples (6) and (7) are Japanese counterparts of earlier Korean Examples (1) and (2).33.Japanese tari is a listing connective, which can be translated as either ‘or’ or ‘and’ depending on contexts whereas English or and Korean tunci and kena are disjunctive connectives.

(6)
mi-tari
see-or
kii-tari
hear-or
shi-ta
do-past
koto-nitsuite
thing-about
hanashi-te-kudasai
talk-conn-give

‘Please talk about things that you saw or heard.’

(7)
kabe-ni rakugaki-o
wall-on scribble-acc
shi-tari
do-or
shi-te-wa
do-conn-top
ikemasen
not.good:pol

‘One should not do scribbling or something like that on the wall.’

Suzuki (1998Suzuki, S. 1998 “Pejorative Connotation: A Case of Japanese.” In Discourse Markers: Descriptions and Theory, ed. by Jucker, A. H. and Ziv, Y. 261–276, Amsterdam: John Benjamins. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2008 2008 “Expressivity of Vagueness: Alienation in the verb-tari suru Construction.” Japanese Language and Literature 42(1):157–169.Google Scholar) examines Japanese x tari suru along with other constructions such as x nante. x nanka. x toka and x tari. which can be translated as ‘something like x’ or ‘x and so on.’ Suzuki (1998Suzuki, S. 1998 “Pejorative Connotation: A Case of Japanese.” In Discourse Markers: Descriptions and Theory, ed. by Jucker, A. H. and Ziv, Y. 261–276, Amsterdam: John Benjamins. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2008 2008 “Expressivity of Vagueness: Alienation in the verb-tari suru Construction.” Japanese Language and Literature 42(1):157–169.Google Scholar) points out that these “vague expressions” in her term can indicate polite hedging and also, in some contexts, convey the speaker’s negative feeling. In (8), the speaker uses tari suru in order not to sound boastful about the fact that she is the secretary of the president. On the other hand, in (9), the speaker uses it to show her critical attitude to the careless act of carrying a camera into a dangerous place.

(8)

(Polite hedging)

Dorikomu no
Dorikomu gen
shachoo hisho
president secretary
dat-tari
cop-tari
shi -masu.
do-end

‘I am doing things like being the secretary of Dorikomu’s president.’ (Suzuki 2008 2008 “Expressivity of Vagueness: Alienation in the verb-tari suru Construction.” Japanese Language and Literature 42(1):157–169.Google Scholar:157)

(9)

(Contemptuous feeling)

Dooshite
why
kamera o
camera acc
mochikon-dari
bring.in-dari(tari)
shi-ta
do-past
no ka
thing q
wakaranai.
not.understand

‘I don’t know why he did something like carry a camera in [to the high-pressure tank where an electronic spark can cause a fatal fire].’ (Suzuki 1998Suzuki, S. 1998 “Pejorative Connotation: A Case of Japanese.” In Discourse Markers: Descriptions and Theory, ed. by Jucker, A. H. and Ziv, Y. 261–276, Amsterdam: John Benjamins. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 271)

Suzuki (1998Suzuki, S. 1998 “Pejorative Connotation: A Case of Japanese.” In Discourse Markers: Descriptions and Theory, ed. by Jucker, A. H. and Ziv, Y. 261–276, Amsterdam: John Benjamins. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 267) explains that the contemptuous feeling in the use of x tari suru emerged because lack of specification in describing x suggests “lack of the speaker’s willingness to commit to x” and such non-committal attitude toward x can be, in turn, construed as the speaker’s contempt toward x.

Building on the previous studies on English or something and Japanese tari suru, I will investigate Korean general extenders. I will only examine tokens of [1 item + general extender] in this study to systematically distinguish the general extender use from the regular listing use of tunci and kena. In Overstreet’s study, 74% of general extenders occurred in [1 item + general extender]. Suzuki (1998Suzuki, S. 1998 “Pejorative Connotation: A Case of Japanese.” In Discourse Markers: Descriptions and Theory, ed. by Jucker, A. H. and Ziv, Y. 261–276, Amsterdam: John Benjamins. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 268) also argued that when enumeration is emphasized, a pejorative connotation is not conveyed. She compared tari with another listing connective ya (‘or’, ‘and’) to show that unlike tari, ya requires the presence of more than one item in the listing and hence does not carry a negative connotation. For these reasons, I will only examine tokens of [1 item + general extender] from my data.

3.Two Korean general extenders and their distributional skewing

Overall, the connectives tunci ‘or’ and kena ‘or’ are very similar. In addition to their shared disjunctive function, both take part in coining universal quantifiers in combination with question words (e.g., encey ‘when’ > encey-tunci, encey-na ‘whenever’ (kena is realized as na); nwukwu ‘who’ > nwukwu-tunci, nwukwu-na ‘whoever’). One difference is that tunci, dating back to the 18th century, is newer than kena, which dates back to the 8th century (M. Kim 2015Kim, M. 2015 “From Choice to Counter-expectation: Semantic-pragmatic Connections of the Korean Disjunctive, Concessive, and Scalar Focus Particle -na ,” Journal of Pragmatics 80: 1–21. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), and it is this new form that is more frequent in conversations. In my data, there were 155 total tokens of tunci and 101 of kena. Of these, 31 were tunci general extenders and 28 kena general extenders.

Despite the overall functional similarities between tunci and kena, I found skewed distributions between the tunci and kena general extenders in my data, which shows that speakers routinely select one form over the other depending on contexts of use. While 55% (17 tokens) of tunci general extenders are used in presenting a solution, none of the kena general extenders are used in such contexts. Also, while 61% (17 tokens) of the kena general extenders are used in the negated form (i.e., their main verbs are negated), none of the tunci general extenders are used in negations.

Next, as shown in Table 1, tunci and kena general extenders have a different preference for co-occurring main verbs. The connectives tunci ‘or’ and kena ‘or’ require a main verb when they carry their original function of listing options and choices ([x-or y-or] [main verb]), and the main verb slot can be occupied by different verbs including (a) semantically general and frequent verbs such as ha ‘do’, kuleh ‘do/be like that’, and ileh ‘do/be like this’ or by (b) verbs of decision such as kyelceng-ha ‘decide’ and senthayk-ha ‘choose’. In my data, however, the main verb slot of the tunci and kena general extenders is occupied only by the three general verbs, ha ‘do’, kuleh ‘do/be like that’ or ileh ‘do/be like this’ and no other verbs.44.The verbs ileh ‘do/be like this’ and kuleh ‘do/be like that’ are created based on the demonstratives i ‘this’ and ku ‘that’. They can be construed as either ‘do like x’ or ‘be like x’ depending on context, and the last consonant h in ileh and kuleh is omitted when they are followed by a vowel. The three verbs are quite similar in what they do when they are a part of general extenders, and in most cases, Korean speakers would not notice significant differences between them. This is quite comparable to the three English expressions or something, or something like that, and or something like this. Nevertheless, Table 1 shows that among the three verbs, tunci general extenders collocate most frequently with ha ‘do’ (45%) whereas kena general extender collocates least frequently with ha ‘do’ (4%, only one token was found). Kena general extenders instead collocate more frequently with kuleh ‘do/be like that’ (64%) and ileh ‘do/be like this’ (32%).

Table 1.Three verbs used with disjunctive general extenders
ha ‘do’ kuleh ‘do/be like that’ ileh ‘do/be like this’ Total
tunci general extender 14 45% 10 32% 7 23% 31 (100%)
kena general extender  1  4% 18 64% 9 32% 28 (100%)

Accounting for the distributional skews shown here in more detail is a topic for further study. For now, I would like to point out that the different hedging functions that the two general extenders each carry can at least partially account for the skew. According to Fraser (2010Fraser, B. 2010 “Pragmatic Competence: The Case of Hedging.” In New Approaches to Hedging, ed. by Kaltenböck, G., Mihatsch, W. and Schneider, S., 15–34. Emerald: Bingley. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 22), there are two kinds of hedging: propositional hedging which attenuates the full semantic value of a particular expression (e.g., “John is sort of smart”), and speech act hedging which attenuates the full force of a speech act (e.g., “Come over here, can you?”). Whereas tunci general extenders are more frequently used as speech act hedging, and in particular, to render suggestions less imposing (similar to English Example (5)), kena general extenders are mostly used as propositional hedging.

Section 4 will show that the connective tunci itself is frequently used in making suggestions (e.g., ‘Do x or y”, M. Kim 2018 2018 “From Connective to Final Particle: Korean tunci “or” and Cross-Linguistic Comparisons,” Journal of Pragmatics 135: 24–38. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), and not surprisingly, the tunci general extender is also frequently used as a speech act hedge, making a non-imposing suggestion. Ironically, even the contemptuous feeling that it expresses has emerged in the context of making suggestions, specifically when the speaker feels frustrated with the addressee since the latter has not tried even the most obvious solution that the speaker is suggesting. When tunci general extenders are used for these related functions – functioning as a speech act hedging in making a suggestion and indicating speaker’s negative feelings – they tend to collocate with ha ‘do’. In Table 1, all 14 tokens of tunci general extenders collocating with ha ‘do’ are used for these functions.

On the other hand, kena general extenders are frequently used as propositional hedging; in particular, they qualify utterances, including unfavorable assessments, in a negated format (e.g., “This play was not perfect”). Such hedging is similar to litotes rhetorical strategies, that is, “understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of the contrary.”55.Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. 10th edition. 1993. This also can explain its frequent use in negative form. Moreover, the two verbs that it frequently collocates with – kuleh ‘do/be like that’ and ileh ‘do/be like that’ – contain the demonstratives ku ‘that’ and i ‘this’ which can point to the antecedents being negated. Their combination, the negative form of kena general extender with kuleh and ileh are translatable as ‘not something like that’ and ‘not something like this,’ and function frequently as propositional hedging as in Examples (27) and (28) (see Section 5.2). The only token where ha ‘do’ is used for kena general extenders is shown in (23). Here the general extender is employed for making a conjecture; this is done without the use of negation. More detailed discussions on the two general extenders and their functions follow in Sections 4 and 5.

4. Tunci general extender

This section illustrates the discourse-pragmatic functions of tunci general extenders using conversational data. English general extenders including or something can carry multiple functions simultaneously in a given interactional context (Overstreet 1999Overstreet, M. 1999Whales, Candlelight, and Stuff like That: General Extenders in English Discourse, New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar, 11; Erman 2001, 1341; Aijmer 2002Aijmer, K. 2002English Discourse Particles: Evidence from a Corpus. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 3; Cheshire 2007Cheshire, J. 2007 “Discourse Variation, Grammaticalisation and Stuff like That.” Journal of Sociolinguistics 11(2): 155–193. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 187). This holds true for Korean general extenders as well. Although I will point out the most prominent function in a given context, other secondary readings may also exist simultaneously in the background.

4.1Epistemic uncertainty and the tentativeness of a plan

The tunci general extender can implicate the vague category to which the one named exemplar belongs by hinting at its unspoken alternatives. Since the extender can indicate approximation, it is often used in conjectures, similar to English or something (Overstreet 1999Overstreet, M. 1999Whales, Candlelight, and Stuff like That: General Extenders in English Discourse, New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar). In (10) two friends, Min and Bae, are talking and Bae’s husband is about to arrive at the local airport. Min asks whether Bae will go pick him up; Bae answers that her husband’s company would do that for him “or something.”

(10)

(LCD 5479)

1 Min:
Florida kasstakao-myen::un
Florida return-when
ceki mwe (0.2) ni-ka pick-up ha-le ka-nun ke-ya?
dm what you-nom pick up do-to go-rel thing-ie

‘When he returns from Florida, will you go pick him up?’

2=> Bae:
tsk ani mwe icey yekise ha-y
No what now here do-conn
cwu-tunci:: mwe kule-kess-ci
give-tunci what do.like:that-mod-cmt
mwe.
what

‘No. uh now here (his company) will do (pick up) for him or something’

Bae does not know his exact plan and only guesses. Since Min mentioned ‘picking up,’ Bae builds on this phrase ‘(the company’s) picking him up’ and adds tunci kule to imply more possible methods, which could include someone from the company picking him up, sharing a ride with a coworker, or taking a cab. Bae also assumes that Min can infer these methods based on their shared cultural knowledge (“intersubjectivity,” Overstreet and Yule 1997Overstreet, M. and Yule, G. 1997 “On Being Inexplicit and Stuff in Contemporary American English,” Journal of English Linguistics 25: 250–258. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). As shown here, the tunci general extender can implicate a vague category and can be used in conjectures.

The tunci general extender can also indicate the tentativeness of a plan as in (11) below. Two female friends, Chae and Joo, are talking. Chae says her sister-in-law, who felt that her life in the U.S. was boring, has suddenly quit her job and left for Korea the day before. Joo asks whether she returned to Korea permanently and Chae answers quoting her sister-in-law that she may or may not come back again using tunci general extender.

(11)

(LDC 6626)

1 Joo:

acwu?

‘permanently?’

2 Chae:
.h ani icey ka-se
No now go-conn
tto
again
keki ka-(a)
there go-conn
pw-ase:: ¿=
see-conn

‘No now go, and again go and see there and,’

3 Joo:

=ung

‘ung’

4=> Chae:
tto
again
tasi
again
o-kess-umyen
come-mod-if
o-
come-
o-tunci
come-tunci
ile-n-ta-ko¿
do.like:this-in-dc-qt

‘if she would come again, she com- comes or something, she said.’

The tunci general extender implies related alternatives and in (11), the alternative to coming to the U.S. is not coming to the U.S. Hence the primary function of tunci general extender in this context is to mark the tentativeness of the sister-in-law’s plan; after she returns to Korea, depending on whether she likes living in Korea, she may or may not return to the U.S.

4.2Polite hedging

4.2.1Propositional hedging

As stated earlier, the tunci general extender functions frequently as speech act hedging. It can also function as propositional hedging, although with less frequency, as in (Excerpt 12), an extended version of the earlier Example (3). Shin and Young are in a long-distance relationship and both are graduate students studying in the U.S. Young has just asserted that she has ‘chronic depression disorder.’ Shin wants to qualify her self-diagnosis and tries to encourage her not to take this too seriously.

(12)

(LCD 5546)

1=> Shin:
wuwul- ni mal-taylo icey wu- wuwul-cung-ey
depre- your word-as now de- depression-disorder-in
kelli-tunci:: ung kulay-to;.
caught-tunci ung do.like:that-even.if

‘Even if depres- as you say you now have depression disorder or something’

2  
sasil-un (0.2)
reality-top
naaci-nun
improve-rel
ke-n
thing-top
hana-to
one-even
eps-ketun?
not.exist-dm

‘in reality, there is not a single thing that improves,’

3 Young:

[ung]

‘ung’

4 Shin:
[kuchi?]
Right?
.hh kulemyenun
then
kunyang
just
phyenhakey-lato
relaxed-even
sayngkak-ul ha-y::.
thought-acc do-ie

‘Right? Then just think at least in a relaxed way,’

5 (Omitted: four lines))
6=> Shin:
ney
your
mal-taylo
word-as
mwe
what
manseng-
chronic-

‘As you say, chronic-’

7=>  
yekise mwe cikum yocum
here what now these.days
kyeysok (.) wuwulha-ta-ko
continuously depressed-dc-qt
kule-nuntey¿
do.like:that-but

‘here uh now these days you say you are continuously depressed but,’

Shin carefully circumvents the strong pathological term, chronic depression disorder. In line 1, as he is about to say ‘depression (disorder)’, he cuts himself off. He restarts and adds an evidential qualification ‘as you say’ (“shield” hedging, Prince et al. 1982Prince, E., Frader, J. and Bosk, C. 1982 “On Hedging in Physician-physician Discourse.” In Linguistics and the Professions. Proceedings of the Second Annual Delaware Symposium on Language Studies. ed. by Di Pietro, R. J., 83–97, Norwood, NJ: Ablex.Google Scholar) before ‘depression disorder,’ and also adds another hedging tunci general extender: ‘as you say, you now have depression disorder-tunci kule (or something).’ His careful phrasing is similarly done in lines 6 and 7 as he is about to say ‘chronic (depression disorder)’ but cuts off the medical term and replaces it with a more neutral term ‘continuously.’ Right before this excerpt, Young had already identified her condition as ‘chronic depression disorder’ and hence Shin has no need to imply any vague approximation of that. The tunci general extender in line 1 is added to attenuate the full semantic force of the pathological term that Young used.

4.2.2Speech act hedging

Tunci general extenders often function as speech act hedging, and in particular, in making suggestions. Of note is that tunci ‘or’ in its original, connective use is also frequently used in making a suggestion to an addressee (e.g., “Do A or B”). According to M. Kim (2018) 2018 “From Connective to Final Particle: Korean tunci “or” and Cross-Linguistic Comparisons,” Journal of Pragmatics 135: 24–38. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, such uses make up 34% of all connective uses of tunci ‘or’ combining two or three items. Over time, the connective tunci has developed into a final particle which marks a suggestion (M. Kim 2018 2018 “From Connective to Final Particle: Korean tunci “or” and Cross-Linguistic Comparisons,” Journal of Pragmatics 135: 24–38. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Yeon and Brown 2011Yeon, J. and Brown, L. 2011Korean: A Comprehensive Grammar. London: Routledge.Google Scholar). Example (13) illustrate this usage. Here the final particle tunci functions as a suggestion marker, and due to its original semantics ‘or,’ it presents the suggestion as an option, rendering it as an non-imposing one: “it is up to you whether you take this suggestion or not.”

(13)
1 Ka:
tsk ah wuli twuli ha-nun
tsk ah we two do-rel
ke
thing
esaykha-mye:n.
awkward-if

‘Ah, if it’s awkward just two of us doing it,’

2=>  
ttan ay-tul-to
other kid-pl-also
pwulu-tunci::
call-tunci

‘we could call other friends.’ (M. Kim 2018 2018 “From Connective to Final Particle: Korean tunci “or” and Cross-Linguistic Comparisons,” Journal of Pragmatics 135: 24–38. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 30)

Given the frequent use of tunci ‘or’ in making a suggestion both as a connective and as a final particle, it is not surprising that tunci general extenders are also frequently used in making non-imposing suggestions (speech act hedging). Example (14) illustrates the use of tunci general extender in making a suggestion. Hee is talking to her friend Jin who has just moved to a new state, bought a house, and is getting ready to start a small business. Hee suggests that when starting a small business, one should get a second loan from the house and start the business with that money.

(14)

(LDC 6510)

1=> Hee:
cip-ul
House-acc
yungca-lul pat-ase
loan-acc receive-conn
(0.2) business-lul ha-tunci hay-ya-ci. [tto:
business-acc do-tunci do-should-cmt again

‘one should do business with (second) loan on the house or something, again’

2 Jin:                  

[kuleh-ci-yo.

be.that-cmt-pol

‘right’

3 Hee:
mwe-l
what-acc
sicakha-lttay-nun:::?
start-when-top

‘when one starts something’

4 Jin:
e. na-nun kulenikka
Uh. I-top so
wenlay sayngkak-un kulay-ss-ketun-yo.
original thought-top be.like:that-past-conn-pol

‘Uh so I originally thought that way.’

In line 1, tunci ha ‘or do’ does not imply a vague category because Hee suggests a specific plan. It does not indicate a tentativeness of a plan either, because Hee says in line 3 “when one starts something” and Jin will definitely start a business. Here, tunci ha is used because it has become a conventional tool for suggesting a candidate solution in a non-imposing way. With tunci ha functioning as speech act hedge, the utterance sounds much politer than it would without it.66.The more imposing, less polite version of (14) without tunci ha is as follows: cip-ul house-acc yungca-lul loan-acc pat-ase receive-conn business-lul business-acc hay-ya-ci.do-should-cmt ‘one should do business with (second) loan on the house.’

Note that in line 1 of (14), (e)ya-ci is attached to tunci ha. The first component (e)ya indicates obligation or necessity (‘should’), and the second – ci signals the speaker’s confidence (‘surely’) that the hearer(s) will agree with what the speaker says. The combined (e)ya-ci can be translated as ‘one should surely do x’ or ‘it should surely be x’, and is often used in giving advice (Cho et al. 2012Cho, Y-M., Lee, H-S., Schulz, C., Sohn, H-M. and Sohn, S-O. 2012Integrated Korean: Intermediate 1. 2nd edition. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.Google Scholar, 95). In (14) as well, using tunci hay-ya-ci (conjugated form of tunci ha plus (e)ya-ci), Hee expresses her confidence in the candidate solution that she suggests, and expects Jin to agree with her.

Line 1 of (14) testifies to how much tunci hay-ya-ci has become a conventional tool for presenting a candidate solution. Here, tunci ha is not attached to the presented solution “getting a second loan,” but to the end of the utterance to combine with (e)ya-ci. The semantically more felicitous utterance is (15) where tunci ha (presenting a solution) and (e)ya-ci (showing the speaker’s confidence) are separated.

(15)

(Semantically correct version with tunci ha attached to the suggested method)

cip-ul
house-acc
yungca-lul
loan-acc
pat-tunci hay-se
receive-tunci do-conn
business-lul
business-acc
hay-ya-ci .
do-should-cmt

‘one should do business with (second) loan on the house or something’

This combined form tunci hay-ya-ci is so routinely used in presenting a candidate solution that most Korean speakers would not notice that the utterance in line 1 of (14) is in any way less accurate than (15).

4.3Speaker’s negative affective stance

4.3.1Criticizing attitude toward Others

The tunci general extender can also encode a speaker’s pejorative stance. In fact, this usage drew my interest in this topic since it was difficult to explain how it can encode such meaning. Based on analysis of my data, I propose that this emerged from its frequent use in making suggestions. In (14) tunci hay-ya-ci is used in making a polite, non-imposing suggestion (speech act hedging) but in (16), the same form conveys the speaker’s critical stance. Kim is recounting a conversation with her sister to her friend Tae. Kim’s sister has had a difficult time marrying her daughter off and Kim recommends her sister that she bring the daughter to her city in Canada where many Koreans are studying. She argues that Korean male students there, who are lonely and away from home, would want to date Korean women, thus creating a dating opportunity for her niece.

(16)

(LDC 6002)

1 Kim:
oylowu-nikka::.
lonely-because

‘because they (male students studying in my region of Canada) are lonely,’

2 Tae:

((soft laughter)) yey

‘yes’

3=> Kim:
kulayse
so
ku manna-selato:
the- meet-although
.hh kyelhon-ul sikhi-tunci:: (0.2)
marriage-acc cause-tunci
[ku]lehkey hay-ya-ci
like.that do-should-cmt

‘so (she) meets (a man) even that way and (you) marry her off or something.’

4 Tae:

U[m::]

‘um’

5 Kim:
kulehkey maynnal kki-ko
like.that everyday hold-conn
anc-a
sit-conn
iss-ta-ko
exist-dc-qt
kulay-ss-teni.
do.like:that-past-retro

‘Everyday (you) are sitting around holding on to her like that, I said so (to my sister)’

6  
(0.2)teyli-ko
bring-conn
tuleo-n-tay-yo:.
enter-in-HSay-pol

‘(my sister) said she would come bringing her (my niece).’

In line 3, Kim suggests a method to marry the niece off (bringing her to Canada) by using tunci ha. Similar to Example (14), tunci ha is not attached to the suggested method but is combined with (e)ya-ci at the end of the utterance demonstrating that tunci hay-ya-ci has become a conventional expression presenting a candidate solution. In this excerpt, Kim feels frustrated with her sister for not actively trying to marry her daughter off. In line 5, she directly criticizes her sister’s such attitude: “sitting around (not working on it) every day holding on to her daughter.” In (16), tunci ha conveys the speaker’s critical stance toward the addressee. I suggest that negative feelings that it conveys emerged and became conventionalized in contexts such as (16): the speaker feels frustrated with the addressee who is in need but has not been seeking solutions, including the obviously easy solution that the speaker is currently suggesting.

In (17), the speaker makes a joke utilizing the contemptuous sense that the tunci general extender carries in suggesting a solution. Three Korean graduate students studying in the U.S. are talking over lunch about a farewell party for graduating Ph.D. students and guessing who will graduate this time. The president of the Korean graduate students association is in charge of preparing the party. However, he has had a difficult time planning since he neither knows who will graduate nor can ask the touchy question of when one’s dissertation will be completed (‘have you finally finished your dissertation so you can graduate this semester?’). Trying to find a solution for the president, Seo then makes a joke, which in effect demands, for the sake of the president, that all Korean Ph.D. students who entered the same year should graduate at the same time, leading Pak to burst into laughter.

(17)

(Lunch Talk)

1 Seo:
hoycang-ul (.)
president-acc
phyenha-key
convenient-purp
hay-cwu-nun uymi-eyse:.
do-ben-rel meaning-in

‘For the good cause of making things easy to the president,’

2=>  
han-pen-ey
one-time-at
colep-tul-ul
graduation-pl-acc
ha-tunci-ha-ci::.
do-tunci-do-cmt

‘(they) should (just) graduate together at one time or something, you know.

3 Pak: ((laughter))

Seo uses tunci ha to present a candidate solution and to pretend that he is displeased with Korean Ph.D. students who are not seeking this obvious, feasible solution: finishing their dissertations and graduating together for the benefit of the president. The three Ph.D. students talking here know all too well how strenuous it is to finish a dissertation, but tunci ha carries the connotation that the solution suggested is an obvious, easy one. This irony renders Seo’s utterance funny. One cannot get upset at a person if s/he does not try to resolve a problem simply because the solution proves too difficult. The contempt connoted by tunci ha renders the task of obtaining the Ph.D. degree as an easy task that one can do for the association’s president. Here, instead of the full (e)ya-ci (‘should surely’), the speaker uses only ci (‘surely’) indicating the speaker’s confidence that the hearers will agree with him.

Next, Example (18) shows that the tunci general extender can convey the speaker’s negative feelings without (e)ya-ci or -ci. Here, a college couple is preparing for a party celebrating their thousandth day of dating. Lin is frustrated and requests that her boyfriend do more to prepare for the party. She suggests an obvious action that he could have already tried: asking his friend Kyu, who has already organized such an event, for some ideas. In line 2, Lin conveys her frustration toward her boyfriend using tunci ha. Lin continues with her criticism by asking a rhetorical question: whether he would not prepare and turn this special commemoration into an ordinary party where guests simply play games.

(18)

(NA 25)

1 Lin:
hatamoshay
at.least
swunse kath-un ke-lato
order like-rel thing-even bit
com:: hay-se
do-conn
mwe.
what

‘for example, at least, about thing like order (of the event)’

2=>  
kyu-oppa-lang
kyu-brother-with
yayki-lul ha-tunci kule-lan
talk-acc do-tunci do.like:that-rel
mal-i-ya::.
word-cop-ie

‘I am telling you, you talk with Kyu or something,’

3  
ani kulemyen
no then
encey encey couple-ring-un encey kkiwul-
when when couple ring-top when put-
kkiwul-ke-mye::.
put.on-FUT-and

‘things like when- when (we) will put- put couple rings on (each other)’

4  
kunyang wa-se
just come-conn
ttak
simply
kunyang game-man kule-ko
just game-only do.like:that-conn
nol- nol-ke-ya?
play- play-FUT-ie

‘Will (you) just come (unprepared to the event) and simply just play games?’

In sum, tunci general extender is frequently used in making a polite suggestion (e.g., (14)). Over time, however, speakers’ frustrations and contempt toward addressees who have not yet tried the obvious solutions that the speakers are suggesting also emerge and become associated with it. This eventually becomes conventionalized as its new meaning, co-existing with its polite hedging function.

4.3.2Pejorative stance toward the speaker’s own problems

Section 4.3.1 illustrated that speakers use the tunci general extender to express their negative feelings toward others. In a comparable manner, speakers can also use it to express negative feelings about their own problems. Take for example, excerpt (19), an extended version of (4). While getting ready to go out for lunch, Mina mentions a downloading problem in Chan’s house. Out of frustration, Chan complains to himself, “I should cut the internet connection or something.” It is preceded and followed by long pauses but Mina does not provide any uptake, and only tries to prompt him to go and wash up.

(19)

(NA 31)

1 Mina:
ppali
quickly
ssis-ko
wash-conn
w(a)-a (.)
come-ie
pap mek-ule
meal eat-purp
ka-key.
go-purp

‘Quickly wash and come so we can go to eat.’

2=> Chan:
(8.0)
 
.hh internet-ul
internet-acc
kkunh-tunci
cut-tunci
hay-ya-ci
do-should-cmt
cincca ssi:.
really darn

‘I should cut the internet connection or something, really darn’.’

3 Mina:
(2.0)
 
ellun tanyeo-llay?
quickly go-will

‘Will you go quickly (to wash up)?’

Tunci ha presents a candidate solution and its combination with (e)ya-ci indicates “one should surely try the solution.” As discussed earlier, when a speaker uses this to suggest a solution with a contemptuous feeling to another person, the solution is an obvious, feasible one. When the speaker uses it to express upset feelings toward their own problems, the tunci general extender tends to contain an extreme solution. In (19) also, after all, it is not likely for Chan to actually live without internet connection but he exaggerates and claims that he should surely try the extreme solution since the problem is that distressing.

This use of the tunci general extender in expressing speakers’ annoyed feelings toward their own problem is very conventionalized; TV drama series and movies often utilize it for this purpose. Examples (20) and (21) below are taken from TV drama series. In (20), Nam runs into an old classmate rival and has a verbal altercation. After the encounter, Nam expresses his anger by saying to himself, “I should surely move away or something.” It is not likely that he would actually move to a different city just because of an old classmate but he claims that he should surely try that extreme solution since he is very exasperated.

(20)

(Sweet Bun ep. 1)

1 Nam:
a::: cincca isa-lul
Ah really move-acc
ka-tunci hay-ya-ci
go-tunci do-should-cmt
wen i-ke, hhhhh ((big sigh))
wow this-thing

‘Ah really, I should move (away from the neighbor) or something, this thing ha’

In (21), Jeng’s friend has rejected Jeng’s request for a ride and has driven away. Angry at him, Jeng tells herself that she should surely buy a car or something even if she needs to borrow money.

(21)

(High Kick 2 ep. 32)

1 Jeng:
awu ssi
Darn
ccacungna-(a)
annoyed-ie
mwe
what
celen hhhh ((sigh))
that

‘Darn, irritating. What that’

2=>  
nay-ka
I-nom
pic-ul
debt-acc
nay-selato
make-although
cha-lul
car-acc
sa-tunci hay-ya-ci.
buy-tunci do-should-cmt

‘I should buy a car even if I have to borrow money or something.’

In Examples (19) through (21), big sighs and expletives demonstrate that the speakers are frustrated. Utilizing tunci general extenders, the speakers exaggerate and claim that they should certainly try an extreme solution because they are so distressed about the problem.

Section 4.3 illustrated that tunci general extenders can convey speakers’ contemptuous feelings. Suzuki (1998Suzuki, S. 1998 “Pejorative Connotation: A Case of Japanese.” In Discourse Markers: Descriptions and Theory, ed. by Jucker, A. H. and Ziv, Y. 261–276, Amsterdam: John Benjamins. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2008 2008 “Expressivity of Vagueness: Alienation in the verb-tari suru Construction.” Japanese Language and Literature 42(1):157–169.Google Scholar) proposes that in the use of x-tari suru, the speaker’s contemptuous and belittling feelings are aimed at the combined referent x. In the case of tunci general extenders, those negative feelings can be targeted more widely at: (a) the person who is facing a problem but not working to resolve it, (b) the suggested solution since it is presented as easily doable; and (c) the problem itself, if talking about the speaker’s own problem.

5. Kena general extender

In this section, I will examine the general extenders with kena ‘or.’ Similar to the tunci general extender, the kena general extender carries diverse functions such as vague category implication, marking epistemic uncertainty, and polite hedging; however, one difference is that it does not signal a speaker’s negative feeling.

5.1Vague category and epistemic uncertainty

(22) illustrates the use of kena general extender in implicating a vague category of a single named exemplar. Jun is talking about his experience of watching a children’s movie and describe how distracted the children were during the screening. He continues that the children appeared to be attentive only during magic scenes “or something like that.”

(22)

(NA 27)

1=> Jun:
ay-tul
kid-pl
mapep nao-kena
magic appear-kena
kule-n
do.like:that-rel
pwupwun-eyse-nun
part-in-top

‘In the parts where magic appears or something like that’

2  
cipcwunghay-se
focus-conn
coyonghi po-nuntey.
quietly watch-but

‘the kids watch quietly but,’

3  
(0.2) kuleh-ci
do.like:that-comp
anh-ulttay-nun
neg-when-top
wasstakasstaha-ko mak.
back.and.forth-conn dm

‘when other scenes are playing, they move around back and forth,’

We can infer that “the parts where magic appears or something like that” are fantasy scenes with computer graphics that can capture the attention of the children.

The kena general extender is also often used in the context of making a conjecture as in (23). A daughter describes her town’s weather to her mother and based on her observation of current conditions, she guesses that it will probably freeze that night.

(23)

(LDC 6452)

1 Daughter:
onul ilehkey (.)
Today like.this
.h ppwuye-n
murky-rel
ke-y: ¿
thing-nom

‘Today given that it is murky like this,’

2 Mother:

ung

‘ung’

3=> Daughter:
icey pam-ey-nun (.)
now night-at-top
el-kena ha-keyss-e.
freeze-kena do-mod-ie

‘now at night it would freeze or something.’

The kena general extender also can signify the tentativeness of a plan, although I could not find an example from the 28 tokens found in my data. For instance, we can use the earlier Example (11) which showed the tunci general extender carrying this function; replacement of tunci with kena is possible and the sentence conveys the similar meaning of the tentativeness of a plan.

5.2Qualification and propositional hedging with negation

As stated earlier, 61% of the kena general extenders are used in negations. This is because negated kena general extenders are frequently used in making qualified evaluations or descriptions by negating a complete, extreme, or ideal state. In that extension, they also function as propositional hedging.

Examples (24) and (25) illustrate the use of negated kena general extenders in qualified utterances. In (24) Ha is describing to her friend, Nan, how she almost fainted while taking a shower due to exhaustion. Ha says it is not like she “lost consciousness or something” but that she suddenly couldn’t move and felt like fainting. To accurately describe the moment to Nan who says that she never had such experience, Ha presents the extreme but easily recognizable state of ‘losing consciousness’ and then describes her states as something that falls short of that using kena general extender.

(24)

(LDC 6546)

1 Ha:
cengsin-i
consciousness-nom
naka-kena kule-n
leave-kena do.like:that-rel
ke-n
thing-top
ani-ntey:[:.
neg-CIRCUM

‘It is not like I lose consciousness or something but’

2 Nan:

       [Ung hh

       ‘ung’

3 Ha:
˚kunyang
Just
kulehkey toy-tela-ko.
like.that become-retro-dm

‘It just happened that way.’

Similarly, in (25), while describing that day’s weather, Chan says it rained continuously but it is not “like it was pouring or something.”

(25)

(NA 31)

1 Chan:
kuntey mwe ilehkey hwak:::
But what like.this massively
nayli-kena kule-ci-nun
rain-kena do.like:that-comp-top
anh-te-man.
neg-retro-but

‘But it is not like pouring or something.’

In (24) and (25), the speakers are describing a state to the hearer and in doing so, they first present a simple and easily recognizable state (which is often an extreme state) and then deny it with the kena general extenders to depict the state they wanted to describe as something falling short of it. This gives a qualified construal, “it is not like x or something (like that).”

Using the same mechanism, speakers can use the negated kena general extender as a hedging device in making a potentially face-threatening utterance, similar to litotes (e.g., this play was not perfect).77.In Korean, there are more cases where the addition of negation increases the level of indirectness and politeness. For example, the invitation kathi an kal-layyo “wouldn’t you go with me?” is politer than kathi kal-layyo “would you go with me?”. Take (26) for example. Yoon is telling her friend Choi that Korean students in her university do not really maintain close relationships or get out together often, though they are all foreign students studying in the U.S. In making her negative evaluation in line 4, she first states mwungchi- ‘stick together’ – the ideal state of maintaining close relationship – and denies it with kena ile “not something like this” to describe the current undesirable state.

(26)

(LDC 5937)

1 Yoon:
com
bit
kathun
same
uh
uh
hankwuk
Korean
haksayng-tul-i-ko.
student-pl-cop-conn

‘a little, we are all same Korean students and’

2  
yuhaksayng-i-ko
foreign.student-cop-conn
kula-eto:.
do.like:that though

‘foreign students (in the U.S.) but nevertheless’

3 Choi:

Ung,

‘ung’

4=> Yoon:
((lipsmack)) mwungchi-kena ile-n
get.together-kena do.like:this-rel
ke-n
thing-top
pyello eps-e::.
really not.exist-ie

‘We don’t really “stick together” (meeting often) or something’

5 ((55 seconds omitted))
6 Yoon:
.hh <kuntey yeki-nun kule-n
But here-top do.like:that-rel
ke-nun
thing-top
eps(.)-nun
not.exist-rel
ke kath-a.
thing seem-ie

‘But it seems that thing like that (meeting often) doesn’t exist here.’

7  
ta com- .hhh
all bit
com
bit
ikicwuuy
selfish
kicil-i
tendency-nom
iss-ekacko. .hh
exist-because

‘because they (Korean students here) all have rather selfish tendencies.’

In line 7, Yoon adds a more frank judgment that her fellow Korean students have rather selfish tendencies (again with the hedging ‘rather’) which is the reason for their not “sticking together.”

Examples (27) and (28) also illustrate the use of negated kena general extenders in potentially face-threatening assessments. In (27), Kun, who has moved from Oklahoma City to a smaller city, tells his friend Seng about his new city which, in his assessment, is not as good as Oklahoma City. He adds hedging and qualifying devices in lines 3 and 6 in order not to be outright offensive or critical. One of those hedging devices is the kena general extender. In (28), Bom describes his rather slow, unimpressive town to his friend saying “it’s not dynamic or something (like that).”

(27)

(LDC 6704)

1 Kun:
um: O- Oklahoma konghang-pota
um O- Oklahoma airport-than
hwelssin cak-ko:.
much small-conn

‘um: (the airport in my city) is much smaller than Oklahoma (City) airport,’

2 Seng:

ung:

‘ung’

3 Kun:
mwe sise- mwe pyello kulehkey
what facili- what really like.that
kkaykkusha-n ke
clean-rel thing
kath-ci-n
seem-comp-top
anh-a.
neg-ie

‘facili- it doesn’t really seem that clean,’

4 (Omitted: Kun’s two lines))
5 Kun:
ki::l-to
road-too
mak ku Oklahoma-chelem
dm uh Oklahoma-like

‘The road is also unlike Oklahoma’

6=>  
kulehkey pantusha-kena kuleh-ci-to
like.that straight-kena do.like:that-comp-even
anh-ko.
neg-conn

‘not that straight or something,’

(28)

(LCD 4361)

1 Bom:
yeki-ka
here-nom
dynamic-ha-kena kuleh-ci-nun
dynamic-do-kena do.like:that-comp-top
anh-un
neg-rel
ke kath-a:.
thing seem-ie

‘It feels here (the city) is not dynamic or something.’

In (27) and (28), the ideal states of “that straight (very straight)” and “dynamic” are mentioned first and then denied with kena general extenders to present a rather negative assessment which falls short of the ideal.

6.Conclusion

A number of recent studies have demonstrated that connectives can perform varied interpersonal, discourse functions that go far beyond their conventional use as linking words or logical connectives (e.g., Evans and Watanabe 2016Evans, N. and Watanabe, H. eds. 2016Insubordination (Vol. 115). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). Among them, some connectives are found to carry similar discourse functions across different languages. Turn-final uses of English or (Drake 2015Drake, A. V. 2015 “Indexing Uncertainty: The Case of Turn-final or .” Research on Language and Social Interaction 48(3): 301–318. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), Swedish eller ‘or’ (Lindström 1997Lindström, A. 1997Designing Social Actions: Grammar, Prosody, and Interaction in Swedish Conversation. Doctoral dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles, USA.Google Scholar), and Korean tunci ‘or’ (M. Kim 2018 2018 “From Connective to Final Particle: Korean tunci “or” and Cross-Linguistic Comparisons,” Journal of Pragmatics 135: 24–38. CrossrefGoogle Scholar) can similarly relax the preference organization and make dis-preferred responses unproblematic. Mulder and Thompson (2008Mulder, J. and Thompson, S. A. 2008 “The Grammaticization of but as a Final Particle in English Conversation.” In Crosslinguistic Studies of Clause Combining: The Multifunctionality of Conjunctions. ed. by Laury, R. 179–204, Amsterdam: John Benjamins. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 186) showed that turn-final uses of English but and Japanese kedo ‘but’ (citing Itani 1992Itani, R. 1992 “Japanese Conjunction kedo ‘but’ in Utterance-final Use: A Relevance-based Analysis.” English Linguistics 9: 265–283. CrossrefGoogle Scholar) can express a contrastive implication “left hanging for the listener to construe;” they also called for more cross-linguistic studies on discourse function of connectives.

Contributing to this line of research, I used natural conversational data to examine the Korean general extenders that have emerged from the typical disjunctive uses of listing options and choices. They have become established as general extenders and now can combine with one item instead of the typical two or more. I demonstrated that these general extenders carry their own discourse functions in conversations, such as expressing approximation, the speaker’s epistemic uncertainty, the tentativeness of a plan, polite hedging, and in the case of tunci general extenders, the speaker’s negative affective stance. I also illustrated that in spite of their similarities, tunci and kena general extenders also exhibit their own specialized use. Tunci general extenders are more frequently used in making non-imposing suggestions (speech act hedging) whereas kena general extenders are more frequent in qualifying negative assessments (propositional hedging).

Based on the similarities between Korean general extenders, Japanese tari suru, and English or something as well as on the theoretical frameworks of grammaticalization and (inter)subjectification, I argued that these constructions, which are originally part of listing constructions, have followed similar developmental pathways. They have come to imply vague categories to which the listed items belong. They have also taken on the more interpersonal function of hedging, attenuating the force of potentially face-threatening utterances or speech acts; these are instances of intersubjectification. In the cases of Korean tunci general extenders and Japanese tari suru, they can also signal speaker’s negative affective stance; these are instances of subjectification as well as (if directed to the addressee) intersubjectification. The schematization of the proposed development is presented in the following (29):

(29)

Functional Extensions of Listing Constructions

Stage 1:

Part of listing constructions

Stage 2:

Indicating approximation

Stage 3:

Functioning as a polite hedging device

& (for Korean and Japanese) conveying the speaker’s negative stance

Lastly, regarding the syncretism of indicating polite hedging and expressing speakers’ negative stances, the findings from the Korean cases do not support Suzuki’s (1998Suzuki, S. 1998 “Pejorative Connotation: A Case of Japanese.” In Discourse Markers: Descriptions and Theory, ed. by Jucker, A. H. and Ziv, Y. 261–276, Amsterdam: John Benjamins. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2008 2008 “Expressivity of Vagueness: Alienation in the verb-tari suru Construction.” Japanese Language and Literature 42(1):157–169.Google Scholar) explanation in which the pejorative connotation of tari suru derived from the speaker’s non-committal attitude. In Korean, although both tunci and kena general extenders can express approximation, tentativeness, and hedging, only tunci general extenders can express negative feelings. The tunci general extenders obtained this negative sense in specific contexts of use: in instances where the suggested solution is obvious but has not been tried. In these contexts, the sense of frustration that suggesting speakers feel became semanticized with tunci general extenders. This study reiterates the importance of examining language change within local contexts of use with full attention to the role of frequency since it is well attested that language change takes place in usage and not in conceptual abstractions.

Notes

1. Overstreet (1999)Overstreet, M. 1999Whales, Candlelight, and Stuff like That: General Extenders in English Discourse, New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar labels those starting with or as “disjunctive general extenders” and those starting with and, “adjunctive general extenders”. She also briefly mentions that similar general extenders could be found in languages other than English (ibid: 8–9).
2.For instance, the cross-linguistically common development of “go” to the future marker was at first explained as conceptual extension from movement in space to movement in time (e.g., Emanatian 1992Emanatian, M. 1992 “Chagga ‘come’ and ‘go’: Metaphor and the Development of Tense-Aspect.” Studies in Language 16(1): 1–33. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). Bybee et al. (1994)Bybee, J. L., Revere, P. and Pagliuca, W. 1994The Evolution of Grammar: Tense, Aspect, and Modality in the languages of the world. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar, however, demonstrated that “be going to” obtained the future meaning through its frequent use in purposive context (e.g., “I am going to marry Jane”).
3.Japanese tari is a listing connective, which can be translated as either ‘or’ or ‘and’ depending on contexts whereas English or and Korean tunci and kena are disjunctive connectives.
4.The verbs ileh ‘do/be like this’ and kuleh ‘do/be like that’ are created based on the demonstratives i ‘this’ and ku ‘that’. They can be construed as either ‘do like x’ or ‘be like x’ depending on context, and the last consonant h in ileh and kuleh is omitted when they are followed by a vowel.
5.Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. 10th edition. 1993.
6.The more imposing, less polite version of (14) without tunci ha is as follows:
cip-ul
house-acc
yungca-lul
loan-acc
pat-ase
receive-conn
business-lul
business-acc
hay-ya-ci.
do-should-cmt

‘one should do business with (second) loan on the house.’

7.In Korean, there are more cases where the addition of negation increases the level of indirectness and politeness. For example, the invitation kathi an kal-layyo “wouldn’t you go with me?” is politer than kathi kal-layyo “would you go with me?”.

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Appendix A.Transcription conventions

[ ] overlapping utterances
= contiguous utterances
(0.5) length of silence in tenths of a second
(.) micro-pause; hearably a silence but not readily measurable
? /, / . rising/continuing/falling intonation
¿ A rise stronger than a comma but weaker than a question mark
: sound stretch
cut-off or self-interruption
word underlining indicates some form of stress or emphasis
WOrd upper case indicates especially loud talk
˚word˚ quiet or soft talk
sharp rise or down in pitch
< jump-started talk
hhh laughter, exhalation or aspiration (outbreaths)
.hhh inhalation or inbreath
(( )) transcriber’s remarks
( ) Uncertain utterances
tsk a click of the tongue

Appendix B.Abbreviations used in the Korean gloss

acc

Accusative

ben

Benefactive

cmt

Committal

comp

Complementizer

conn

Connective

cop

Copular

dc

Declarative

dm

Discourse Marker

end

Ending

gen

Genitive

HSay

Hearsay

ie

Informal Ending

in

Indicative Mood

mod

Modal

nom

Nominative

past

Past, Old Anterior

pl

Plural

pol

Polite Ending

purp

Purposive

retro

Retrospective

q

Question

qt

Quotation Marker

rel

Relativizer

top

Topic

Address for correspondence

Professor Minju Kim

Department of Modern Languages

Claremont McKenna College

850 Columbia Avenue

Claremont, California 91711-6420

USA

mkim@cmc.edu

Biographical notes

Minju Kim is an associate professor of Korean in the department of Modern Languages at Claremont McKenna College. Her research interests include discourse analysis, language change, grammaticalization, language and gender, and corpus linguistics. Her recent publications have appeared in Journal of Pragmatics, Discourse Studies and Studies in Language. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles.