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



This paper analyzes how vendors and customers in Korean marketplaces use three distinct levels of addressee honorifics: the deferential ‑ style, the polite ‑ style and the so-called ‘half speech’ style. The frequencies of these forms to some extent pattern with the relative ages of the participants; for example, vendors are more likely to use towards customers who are relatively younger. However, the majority of interactions feature dynamic variation between different styles, which cannot be adequately explained by relative age. Rather, we see that participants use ‑ style and ‑ to index that they are speaking in their prescribed roles as “vendors” or “customers”. Meanwhile, was found to index two main forms of social meaning. It was used to mark stages of the interaction that were conversational, playful, or intimate, but also when speakers strategically indexed their authority or power as they tried to take the upper hand in price negotiations. This authoritative use of was accompanied by non-verbal behaviors such as large body postures, high chin positions and the withholding of gaze and bodily orientation. The paper contributes towards a growing body of research adopting an indexical approach to the use of honorifics, and demonstrates the importance of including analysis of multimodal features alongside the honorific forms themselves.

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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Contaymal; honorifics; indexicality; marketplace; multimodality; Panmal; speech-styles
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