NSM-based approach to meanings of synonyms: Focusing on hearsay markers in Japanese and Korean
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This paper presents a comparative analysis of hearsay markers in Japanese and Korean: souda, rashii, -tte, -?, and -??. These expressions are used in similar situations and are often translated in English as ‘he/she says’, or ‘I heard’. Although these hearsay markers are considered synonyms, they are not necessarily interchangeable. There are subtle differences which cannot be captured by a dictionary or conventional semantic analysis. This study applies the Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) Approach proposed and developed by Anna Wierzbicka and colleagues (Goddard 1994, 1998, 2008, 2016; Goddard & Wierzbicka 2002, 2014; Peeters 2006). Using the NSM Approach’s syntactic rules, a combination of semantic primes was used to define each marker and articulate the differences. The data for the analysis comprises three contemporary Japanese television programs which were broadcast between 2005 and 2013. The resulting definitions comprised discrete components that defined the respective markers. The meanings of each expression are illustrated by cognitive scenarios such as ‘I say this because someone else said this’, ‘I say this because someone else said: I know this’, ‘I say this because someone else said something about this’, and ‘I say this because I said this’. The proposed definitions facilitate the understanding of each expression and enable to compare the meanings cross-linguistically.
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