Journal of Universal Language
Sejong University Language Research Institue

Cultural Translation of Debate in Korean

Jee-won Hahn1
1Kyung Hee University

Copyright ⓒ 2016, Sejong University Language Research Institue. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Published Online: Jan 01, 2017


Transformational processes of borrowed speech activities are addressed since the topic of debate. Debate is rooted in Western political discourse, and is now situated in Korean discourse. This study examines debate in order to understand the concept and rules of speaking which govern that activity. Considering the popularity of debate in Korean, particularly in educational domains, it seems only natural to see how Korean language/culture compares with and has modified a Western-oriented activity. The motivation of this current study is as a response to a prior lack of effort to look at language from a broader context. This study attempts to apply the ethnography of communication to debate proposed by Hymes (1964; 1972; 1974). From the ethnographic approach to communication, speaking is inseparable from the context in which it takes place. The need to examine contextual factors is taken into consideration, and a set of components are identified to study language in use (i.e. setting, participants, keys, and norms). In this view, debate is analyzed as a cultural product. Findings reveal certain diverse features of ‘Koreanized’ debate. The language of Korean debate in expressing disagreement tends to be indirect. While agreement is directly expressed, disagreement is likely to be realized by means of disarmers and prefacing statements. The expression of oppositional opinion also becomes longer.

Keywords: debate; Korean speech acts; ethnography of communication; cultural borrowing; educational setting



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