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ISSN : 1226-4822(Print)
ISSN : (Online)
The Sociolinguistic Journal of Korea Vol.26 No.3 pp.89-116
DOI : http://dx.doi.org/10.14353/sjk.2018.26.3.04

The social meaning of rising-falling tone in a ‘reality’ TV show

Kyuwon Moon
Stanford University

Abstract

This study discusses the social meaning of LHL% (rising-falling tone in IP final) in Seoul Korean, and shows the two kinds of LHL% contours that depend on the phonetic details of the contours. The data consist of popular “pseudo-reality” TV show called ‘we got married,’ where the female characters switch styles between a rational interview style and emotional, conversational style. What clearly characterizes the two styles is the phonetic pattern of LHL%—pitch and duration as the speakers use more phonetically extreme contours in a conversational style. The non-expressive LHL%, with the mild phonetic contour, functions as a “smoother,” while the expressive LHL%, with the extreme contour, has various emotional functions. Thus, this paper argues that while the “smoother” function can be the basis of social meanings of LHL%, the phonetic details, which make the variable more salient, are more important in shaping the social meaning and speaker stances.

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