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ISSN : 1226-4822(Print)
ISSN : (Online)
The Sociolinguistic Journal of Korea Vol.26 No.4 pp.23-55

Grammar of Respect and Disrespect : Honorific Register Formation in Altai Kazak

Ujin Kim
Research Fellow, Seoul National University Institute of Cross-Cultural Studies


The Kazak honorific system has been described to consist of a number of second person forms and terms of address. In addition to these core honorific expressions, however, my recent study of spoken Kazak in the Chinese Altai reveals that there are many other politeness features — both linguistic and non-linguistic — that constitute a loosely integrated honorific register system. They include grammatical distinctions (e.g., singular/plural, past/perfect, confirmative/non-confirmative), lexical distinctions (e.g., Chinese titles/Kazak kin terms), prosody (e.g., loud/quiet, fast/slow), as well as non-linguistic features (e.g., smoking/ non-smoking, male facial hair grown/removed, serving of black tea/milk tea). This paper describes these “non-core” expressions and the semiotic processes in which they, together with the core expressions, form a dichotomous system of contrast between plain and honorific registers.