Author: Jo, Charmhun
Title: Synesthetic metaphors in Korean texts
Degree: DALS
Year: 2018
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Korean language
Metaphor
Department: Faculty of Humanities
Pages: x, 132 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: Synesthesia refers to an involuntary neurological phenomenon where "sensory events in one modality take on qualities usually considered appropriate to another, as when synesthetic individuals perceive sounds to have shapes, colors, or tastes" (Marks, 1982). More generally, it means an experiential association of one sensory domain with another, such as "sweet sound" and "cold color". In the field of linguistics, synesthesia is understood in terms of metaphor (Williams, 1976; Geeraerts, 2010; among others). As a pioneering study of linguistic synesthesia, Ullmann (1963) proposes a "universal" theoretical framework of "hierarchical distribution". In other words, analyzing the 19th century poetic works written in English, French, and Hungarian, he reaches a conclusion of three overall tendencies in synesthetic transfers: first, directional tendency of "touch -> heat -> taste -> smell -> sound -> sight", which is called "hierarchical distribution" since the transfers tend to move physically from the "lower" to the "higher" sensory domains; second, source domain tendency that the most frequent source domain of transfers is touch, the lowest level of sensation; third, target domain tendency that the most frequent target domain for synesthetic transfers is sound rather than sight. But he also admits the need of broader examination of more linguistic examples so that his hypothesis can be established universally. The linguistic subjects explored have been steadily expanded from English to other languages such as Chinese, Hebrew, Italian, and Japanese. However, many languages, including Korean, have been still left to be touched on. In this light, the goal of the study is to test Ullmann's (1963) theoretical framework of "hierarchical distribution" through the synesthetic data collected from three different genres of Korean texts. Specifically, the theoretical questions to be addressed here are the following: (1) What are the routes for Korean synesthetic transfers like? And what are the predominant source and target sensory domain for Korean synesthetic metaphors? (2) What are the universal and culture-specific aspects in Korean synesthetic association? (3) What are the similar and different aspects ofsynesthetic metaphors between the Korean different genres? Accordingly, the focus of this study falls on the issues of directionality, generalization, and genre-ness for Korean synesthesia. The synesthetic data used are, precisely, retrieved from Korean modern poetry, Korean everyday language, and Korean Won Buddhist scriptures. Again, for the everyday language synesthesia, the data come from both Sejong Corpus and compound words.
The results of data analyses are summarized as follows: (1) There appear two different directionalities on the whole, i.e., one from poetic synesthesia and the other from conventional synesthesia. The former does not comply with the "general" hypothesis on linguistic synesthesia, taste preceding touch in order, whereas the latter confirms Ullmann's (1963) hierarchy. (2) The poetic synesthesia displays unstable unique features overall, while the corpus synesthesia demonstrates a comparatively clear, probable cultural specificity, wholly matching with the "universal" tendencies. In the compound-word synesthesia, some unobvious but notable distinct characteristics as well as universalities are detected. (3) The difference between poetic synesthesia and conventional synesthesia is revealed to some extent definitely, in that the number of types in conventional synesthetic data is meaningfully smaller than that of poetic synesthesia. The compound-word synesthesia seems to exhibit its own specificities about source and target in terms of text. Across three different genres of texts, a noticeable common phenomenon is discovered, which is involved in vision and sound where their interaction is much more intimate and close, compared with other cases in Korean synesthetic associations. (4) Won Buddhist scriptures does not produce any proper synesthetic data worthy of discussing. In the present study, through the investigation of the synesthetic examples retrieved from the clear and extensive data sources, Korean synesthetic phenomena are understood more clearly and comprehensively. Also, in the course of the examination and comparison, the probable universal hypothesis is verified to be valid potentially in Korean synesthesia. The major contributions of this thesis lie in establishing the groundwork for further future studies concerning Korean synesthetic phenomena, and offering more linguistic evidence for further research upon general issues of synesthetic metaphors.

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