Phrase final position as a site of social meaning : phonetic variation among young Seoul women
- In phonetics and phonology, it has long been suggested that specific syntactic or phonological elements in an utterance have heavier functional weight than other elements. However, sociolinguists have generally assumed that all occurrences of a variable carry the same weight in the stream of speech, regardless of the syntactic or prosodic structure of the target language. In this dissertation, I show that a specific "site" in an utterance can serve as a focal position in the analysis of sociophonetic variation. I provide data from Seoul Korean where the IP (Intonation Phrase)-final position serves as a salient site for variability, allowing robust segmental and prosodic variation. I examine the use of two variables—(o) and LHL% (rising-falling tone at IP-final)—by three call center employees in Seoul, as they navigate the varied situations of their professional and personal lives. The data come from a customer call center located in Seoul, South Korea. The call centers are the essence of capitalism in the post-Fordist economy where customer service is the heart of business. Young women's communicative skill and "sweet, friendly manner" have become a valuable asset, and the voice of the workers is commodified and regularized to ensure the productivity and good customer service. The data consist of three female call center workers in various situations such as talking to their customers on the phone, conversing with friends, a husband, or a boyfriend, and in a sociolinguistic interview. With the phonetic analysis of the variables that appear in IP-final position, I uncover the social meanings of specific variables and their phonetic properties—duration and pitch excursion—as they shift their stances and personae. Raising of (o) in IP-final position is a change-in-progress in Seoul Korean, favored by younger, female speakers and especially in read speech (Chae 1995, Hong 1991). I found significant stylistic effects of setting and topic, in which (o) appears to index familiarity. Long duration, furthermore, adds affect, particularly a soothing affect, in the context of baby-directed speech. LHL% is investigated in two different ways: categorical (frequency of occurrences) and phonetic (duration and pitch excursion). LHL% is related to the practice of aegyo—a cute attitude commonly performed by young women—and is used more frequently in conversations with customers than with friends. Rather than constituting a direct act of aegyo, the use of LHL% in this context seems to create intimacy with customer. The lesser use of raised (o) in the same context, and other co-occurring resources such as the politeness marker -yo suggest a "compliant but professional" persona as these call center employees balance professionalism and femininity. The phonetic details of LHL% further unveil the meaning of this variable. LHL% with a bigger pitch excursion is used more frequently in conversations with one's intimate circle than with customers. The fact that the speakers do not use more "extreme" contours in the customer conversations supports previous research (Moon 2010) arguing that "extreme" contours index a "childish aegyo" persona. The results of a perception experiment reveal the interactions of duration and pitch excursion of LHL%, showing that the phonetic properties of variables can have independent, interactive meanings. Recent approaches to prosodic variation focus not only on the categorical occurrences of variables but also on their phonetic details, proving its importance in the study of social meaning. In this dissertation, the detailed phonetic analysis of each occurrence gives insight into the social meaning of the variable, complementing its categorical patterns. Along with the site of variability as an object of variation, this dissertation attempts to expand the scope of traditional approaches, to access a more nuanced understanding of style and social meaning.
|Type of resource
|electronic; electronic resource; remote
|1 online resource.
|Stanford University, Department of Linguistics.
|Inoue, Miyako, 1962-
|Rickford, John R, 1949-
|Inoue, Miyako, 1962-
|Rickford, John R, 1949-
|Statement of responsibility
|Submitted to the Department of Linguistics.
|Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2017.
- © 2017 by Kyu won Moon
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
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