Part of the family: native Korean perspectives on using kinship terms with female Americans

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Date
2019
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Publisher
University of Alabama Libraries
Abstract

This paper explores the issue of native Korean speakers’ usage of Korean kinship terms when communicating with American females. Koreans typically use four sibling terms (hyeng, nwuna, oppa, and enni) to address peers and friends who are slightly older than them, whereas Americans use first names as address terms in this context. While some existing research explores English speakers’ perceptions of these terms and their usages, there is a lack of research investigating native Koreans’ perspectives of using these terms with Americans. To fill this gap, this study uses an online survey to explore native Korean speakers’ perceptions of using kinship terms with American females compared with Korean females. It also investigates whether specific demographic factors play a role in the acceptance of kinship terms in different situations, and it provides a general overview of the influence of eight chosen situational and interpersonal factors on these kinship term usages. Overall, while gender, age, and experience living in the US all affected kinship term usage with Americans to some degree, experience living in the US seemed to be the most powerful influence throughout the survey responses. Additionally, while romantic interest and closeness/intimacy of the relationship are two of the most commonly discussed contextual factors in the literature on this topic, these factors were consistently ranked among the least important in the minds of the native Korean respondents when determining kinship term usage with both Korean and American interlocutors. Overall, this study reveals that there is great variety amongst individual native Korean speaker opinions about using Korean kinship terms with Americans, so American learners of Korean should be prepared to negotiate address term usage with the different native speakers they encounter.

Description
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Keywords
Linguistics, Sociolinguistics
Citation