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Compilation of an annotated bibliography of Korean literature on Korean ideophones/sound-symbolic expressions (의성어 /의태어) [Research Assistantship]

Professor: Shoko Hamano


Department: EALL


Title: Compilation of an annotated bibliography of Korean literature on Korean ideophones/sound-symbolic expressions (의성어 /의태어)


Description: The long-term objective of the research of which this project is part of is to find evidence possibly connecting the Korean and Japanese languages. The genealogical connection between these two languages, although suspected, has not been established because the standard method of identifying phonological correspondences between cognates fails in the case of languages that separated more than 5000 years ago. Instead, this project attempts to identify similarities between the ideophonic  (sound-symbolic) systems of these two languages that cannot be accounted for on either universal or typological grounds.


One problem in this line of comparative research presents, however, is that forms normally considered ideophones either by linguists or lexicographers may contain pseudo-ideophonic expressions derived from prosaic words. The problem is severe in Korean because of extensive ideophonization of prosaic words. (The same problem exists in Japanese to an extent, but not to the same extent.) In order to be able to compare ideophones in these two languages, unproblematic ideophones need to be identified first. On the basis of insights gleaned from extensive studies of Japanese ideophones, I have already identified mono-syllabic Korean ideophones using a dictionary of Korean ideophones. Disyllabic and trisyllabic forms are more problematic. Existing literature written in English or Japanese does not provide clear guidelines.


Serious phonological study of Korean ideophones began in the 1990s in the US, Japan, and Korea. I have access to materials from the former two countries, and these usually focus specifically on vowel harmony and consonantal mutation, but I am more interested in how ideophonic roots are composed, and I suspect that Korean resources would be more varied and contain relevant information. Unfortunately, because I am not a proficient reader of Korean (I can read short phonological papers slowly), I do not know how much work has been done in Korea in this specific area I am interested in.


I would therefore like a native speaker of Korean to look for academic articles and books written in Korean on the topic of Korean ideophones and identify the specific sections that are relevant to my research. The research assistant will need to provide full citations with short summaries of the most relevant sections in English. This will allow me to focus on the most relevant literature and to quickly come up with a better picture of Korean ideophones.


Duties: In the first week, I will give a briefing of the overall research objective and background, and the procedures that the assistant needs to follow. The assistant will first conduct online search of dissertations, journal articles, book articles, and books on Korean ideophones and translate their titles into English. The assistant will acquire physical or electronic copies of these materials. (If they can be acquired only by a faculty member, I will order them.) Then the assistant will scan the table of contents, identify sections that appear relevant, skim through the sections, and summarize in English what is reported there. If a section seems too technical, the summary can be very brief only noting that there is a technical discussion of the subject. The assistant will need to compile these into bi-weekly reports, providing the full citations, electronic paper versions and/or scanned pages, and summaries. After each report, I will meet with the assistant for half an hour to provide feedback and ask clarification questions if necessary.


Time commitment: 1-3 hours per week (average)


Credit hour option*: 1


Submit Cover Letter/Resume to: hamano@gwu.edu


*If credit is sought, all registration deadlines and requirements must be met. Students selected to be research assistants should contact Ben Faulkner at benfaulkner@gwu.edu whether they intend to pursue credit or not.