Volume 18, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0257-3784
  • E-ISSN: 2212-9731



This study examines discourse functions of Korean ‘yes’ words from an interactional perspective based on naturally-occurring conversation data. Tokens of and in Korean are widely recognized as affirmative responses. A close examination of these tokens, however, reveals wide-ranging interactional functions through which speakers express active engagement, share information, negotiate meaning, and maintain discourse coherence. The present study identifies a total of fifteen discourse-pragmatic functions of Korean ‘yes’ words: (1) affirmative answer, (2) confirmation, (3) acceptance, (4) agreement, (5) answer to summons, (6) acknowledgement, (7) change-of-state, (8) change-of-activity, (9) response solicitation, (10) reinforcement, (11) other initiation of repair, (12) closing of phone call, (13) continuer, (14) proposal to discontinue the on-going action for the sake of a larger course of action, and (15) arguably hesitation marker. This study demonstrates that the interactional approach enables the discovery of varied discourse functions of a type of linguistic items, which may not be readily available in dictionaries or grammar reference guides.

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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): discourse functions; discourse marker; interactional approach; Korean; Korean yes
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