Kyu-Cheol Kim

Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics



First Advisor



This study of iconicity if Korean has examined the iconic relationship (non-arbitrariness) between form and meaning in phonology, morphology, and syntax. There are many pairs of linguistic expressions that carry roughly the same meaning. The two members of the pair exhibit different lengths or sizes: one of the pair is short (or small), i.e., the Short-Form, the other of the pair is long (or large), i.e., the Long-Form. The different lengths are focused upon in this study. This study begins with the question: why are there two forms which exhibit different lengths (or size)? In order to answer this question, it has been assumed that in a pair of expressions the different surface sizes are associated with different 'conceptual sizes' which the expressions connote (iconicity principle). In general, the concepts which are indicated by the paired expressions reveal binary oppositions, such as certainty vs. uncertainty, directness vs. indirectness, completion vs. incompletion, autonomy vs. non-autonomy. The finding of this study is that the Short-Forms are associated with the first members of such pairs of binary oppositions, while the Long-Forms are associated with the second. To categorize such concepts, a basic notion of Gestalt psychology, i.e., Figure and Ground, is employed (as discussed by various linguists, especially Wallace (1982)). The first members of the oppositions are characterized as the Figure, while the second members are characterized as the Ground. Overall, this study shows that in paired expressions the Long-Forms are associated with the Gestalt Ground, while the Short-Forms are related to the Gestalt Figure.


Education, Language, Literature and linguistics


Linguistics | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

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