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ISSN : 1226-4822(Print)
ISSN : (Online)
The Sociolinguistic Journal of Korea Vol.27 No.2 pp.145-171

A Study on Terms of Address and Reference used in Romantic Relationships

Yu Huijae
Yonsei University


This research critically analyzes terms of address and reference used between boyfriends and girlfriends to reveal hidden ideologies embedded in the everyday language. The analysis is base d on the Discourse-Historical Approach, focusing on the lexical choice of language users. The terms of address and reference used in romantic relationships is collected through web cartoon data and categorized according to the social distance and social status they signal. The analysis reveals that couples use asymmetric type of terms of address and reference to each other and all of the asymmetric sets put men in a more dominant position; While ”o-ppa” is a common choice to refer to a boyfriend, “nu-na” is never used to a girlfriend. In addition, men tend to use “o-ppa” to show powerful and tough personalities while women tend to use their own name to infantilize themselves. Through the critical analysis of this everyday language this study reveals that the gender inequality can be established at the stage of romantic relationships.