Associate Professor of Linguistics, Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies


The present study attempts to compare the concept of “deference” in Farsi and Korean. Data gathering happened in a two years study in South Korea, and Korean students in Korea and Iran were interviewed.Deference is a culturally-rooted universal concept. However, it appears differently in various languages. Persian and Korean, though from different linguistic families, have both applied signs and elements of deference and this is their common aspect. There are some aspects of historical, religious, and cultural similarities between Iranian and Korean societies which may account for this. Social hierarchy and Confuciusian rituals play an important role in the system of deference in Korean society. Deference construction used to be very complicated in the Korean language, but nowadays it is simple; as a result, the seven-level system of expressions is transformed into a four-level one, emphasizing formality, politeness, intimacy, and simplicity. No sentence in Korean could be expressed unless one of these deference signs are involved. Deference signs are usually verbal suffixes included in all Korean verbs. Furthermore, as in the Persian language, there are some special words in Korean which exclusively express deference.


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