Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Deferential Speech Level

In English, there are times when you have to take alternative words or phrases, depending on various social factors involved in conversation, such as the formality of the situation, politeness, and familiarity with the addressee. For instance, in a certain situation, you can greet someone by saying “Hey, what’s up!” but in another situation by saying “Good morning, Sir!”
Korean has different speech level endings for serving these purposes. As already emphasized in the previous post, the use of speech level endings is mandatory all the time, since verb or adjective stems cannot stand alone. However, for Korean language learners, choosing an appropriate speech level ending for every verb and/or adjective is challenging because its selection is determined by various contextual factors involved in interaction, such as who you are talking to, whether you know the addressee or not, how formal the situation is, and so on.

The Deferential Speech Level

The deferential speech level is used for public and/or formal communication settings, such as broadcasting, public speech, business-related meetings, conference presentations, and so forth. The deferential speech level has four different endings for each sentence type: -습니다/-ㅂ니다(declarative), -습니까/-ㅂ니까(interrogative), -(으)십시오(imperative), and -(으)십시다(propositive).

* the Deferential speech level
Declarative

For the declarative(statement), -습니다 is used when the stem ends in a consonant, as in 먹 + 습니다 = 먹습니다(someone eats). However, when the stem ends in a vowel, -ㅂ니다 is used, as in 가 + ㅂ니다 = 갑니다(someone goes).

* Declarative
Because the deferential speech level indicates a sense of formality, many formulaic/fixed expressions are made of this speech level ending:


Interrogative

For the interrogative(question), the ending is -습니까 for the stem ending in a consonant, as in 먹습니까?(do you eat?) However, it is -ㅂ니까 for the stem ending in a vowel, as in 갑니까?(do you go?) Here are more examples.

* Interrogative


Imperative

For the imperative(command), the ending is -으십시오 for the stem ending in a consonant, as in 먹으십시오(eat). However, the ending is -십시오 for the stem ending in a vowel, as in 가십시오(go). Here are more examples.

* Imperative


Propositive

For the propositive(suggestion), the ending is -으십시다 for the stem ending in a consonant, as in 먹으십시다(let us eat). However, it is -십시다 for the stem ending in a vowel, as in 갑시다(let us go). Here are more examples.

* Propositive

* Click to read related posts.
Grammar for Beginners
Endings of Sentences
The Polite Speech Level
Negation (부정문)


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