The Korean Association of Language Studies

언어학과 언어교육분야의 연구를 통한 학문의 질적 향상과 국내외 회원 및 학회간 학술 교류와 친목을 도모

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언어학연구, Vol.24 no.3 (2019)
pp.69~87

Why Jejueo is Difficult to Understand for Monolingual Korean Speakers : Focusing on Linguistic Factors

Sejung Yang

(Jeju National University / Instructor)

Jejueo, spoken on Jeju Island, Korea, has long been thought to be a dialect of Korean. However, a recent experiment (Yang et al., 2019) reported that monolingual Korean speakers from the mainland of Korea had comprehension rates of less than 10% on average. The current paper investigates linguistic factors that may influence the low intelligibility of Jejueo to Standard Korean. Linguistic factors reveal that both the number of non-cognates (lexical distance) and pronunciation differences (phonetic distance) affect the low intelligibility rate of Jejueo to some extent. However, lexical distance is more correlated with its intelligibility than phonetic distance. My results also show a larger lexical distance (42.2%) between Jejueo and Standard Korean than between certain pairs of European languages (0% - 16.8%, Gooskens, 2007, pp. 453-459). These findings contribute to our understanding of why Jejueo is unintelligible to people who speak only Korean and supports the importance of developing revitalization programs in Jejueo for young learners whose parents no longer speak to them in the language.

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