Journal Search Engine
Download PDF Export Citation Korean Bibliography PMC Previewer
ISSN : 1226-4822(Print)
ISSN : (Online)
The Sociolinguistic Journal of Korea Vol.31 No.4 pp.149-173

Question Tags in Korean Conversation: Displaying and Soliciting Empathy for Managing Delicate Action

Kyu-hyun Kim*
* Author: Kyu-hyun Kim, Professor, Dept. of Applied English Linguistics & Translation Studies,
Kyung Hee University; 26 Kyungheedae-ro, Dongdaemun-gu, Korea 02447; Email:


Kim, Kyu-hyun. (2023). “Question Tags in Korean Conversation: Displaying and Soliciting Empathy for Managing Delicate Action”. The Sociolinguistic Journal of Korea, 31(4), 149-173. From the perspective of conversation analysis, this study analyzes utterances formatted with a question tag constructed as the tag-type clause kuci, “Isn’t it?.” Based on an examination of naturally occurring talk-in-interaction, it is argued that question tags, though generally intended to be a recipiency-mobilizing resource, serve primarily as a resource for empathy display and are geared toward retroactively managing the various “delicate” actions that their host utterance implements. Formulated as post-predicate elements, their use indicates the speaker’s trust that the recipient will provide an affiliative response by sharing the empathic stance exhibited in their host utterance. The kuci-speaker’s orientation toward soliciting the recipient’s affiliative uptake is frequently reciprocated by the recipient, who registers the “delicate character” of the kuci-marked utterance’s action by producing variously “nuanced” responses, for example, in a way that is empathically other-attentive, obliquely affiliative, or mildly resistant.





  1. Journal Abbreviation : j. Korea Saf. Manag. Sci.
    Frequency : Published three times annually in April, August and December, including an international issue
    Doi Prefix : 10.14353/sjk.
    Year of Launching : 2013
    Publisher :
    The Sociolinguistic Society of Korea
    Indexed/Tracked/Covered By :

  2. Online Submission

  3. The Sociolinguistic
    Society of Korea

  4. Editorial Office
    Contact Information

    - Tel: +82-10-4513-5639
    - E-mail: