Questions about Korean

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Re: Questions about Korean

Postby Reinder » 2011-06-30, 16:10

linguoboy wrote:Korean is a topic-prominent language and "은/는" is the topic particle. Topicalisation is not something which can be explained in a paragraph or two; you really need to consult a good grammar with lots of examples.


I do know what "은/는" is/means, but I don't know the difference between "은/는" and "이/가".
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Re: Questions about Korean

Postby モモンガ » 2011-06-30, 16:47

You could write book about it.

여자아이는 김치를 먹어
The important is what girl is doing
여자애가 김치를 먹어
the important is eating kimchi

It's hard to explain, but if you can speak Japanese 는 = wa
가 = ga

Don't worry if you not understand.


It's a hard part for the most foreigners, unless you are Japanese.

누가 김치를 먹니?
who eats kimchi?
여자가 김치를 먹어.
it's girl who eats kimchi.
여자는 뭘 하고 있니?
what is the woman doing?
여자는 김치를 먹어

as for her she is eating kimchi.

though I have problems with it still, so maybe native speaker can be better at explaining.

소녀가 밥을 먹어 - we care about who eats rice.

소녀는 밥을 먹어 - we care about what girl is going.
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Re: Questions about Korean

Postby Reinder » 2011-06-30, 16:53

モモンガ wrote:You could write book about it.

여자아이는 김치를 먹어
The important is what girl is doing
여자애가 김치를 먹어
the important is eating kimchi

It's hard to explain, but if you can speak Japanese 는 = wa
가 = ga

Don't worry if you not understand.


It's a hard part for the most foreigners, unless you are Japanese.

누가 김치를 먹니?
who eats kimchi?
여자가 김치를 먹어.
it's girl who eats kimchi.
여자는 뭘 하고 있니?
what is the woman doing?
여자는 김치를 먹어

as for her she is eating kimchi.

though I have problems with it still, so maybe native speaker can be better at explaining.

소녀가 밥을 먹어 - we care about who eats rice.

소녀는 밥을 먹어 - we care about what girl is going.

Thank you very much for you explanation, thank you very much. I don't really know the difference between は and が in Japanese, too, haha, but now I do know a little more.
I know enough for now, I guess I'll learn more about it later after I read more about Korean.
Thank you very much for now, as soon as I'm confused again, I'll ask it again! =D
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Re: Questions about Korean

Postby linguoboy » 2011-06-30, 18:52

Reinder wrote:
linguoboy wrote:Korean is a topic-prominent language and "은/는" is the topic particle. Topicalisation is not something which can be explained in a paragraph or two; you really need to consult a good grammar with lots of examples.

I do know what "은/는" is/means, but I don't know the difference between "은/는" and "이/가".

Sorry, but if that's the case, then you don't know what "은/는" is/means, you only know what it is called. モモンガ is right--you could write a book on these particles (and in fact several people have). Did you even try to read the short article I linked to?

Reinder wrote:I know enough for now, I guess I'll learn more about it later after I read more about Korean.

Really, the only way to learn this distinction is through exposure. It's not so much about "importance" but about new information vs old information. In the first example:

누가 김치를 먹니?
Who eats kimchi?
여자가 김치를 먹어.
A woman eats kimchi.

the woman has not been mentioned before. It's new information, so it can't be the topic. instead, it takes a particle appropriate to its role in the sentence[*].

But in the second example, we already know there is a woman involved:

여자는 뭘 하고 있니?
What is the woman doing?
여자는 김치를 먹어
The women eats kimchi.

so she is "old news". This is indicated is by using the topic particle. Note how in the translation this corresponds to the definite article. Definiteness is one of the ways we indicate "old news" in English (and other Western European languages). If I say "the woman", I'm assuming that you know which woman I have in mind because she's been mentioned already. It's the same with 여자는.

[*]In this case, 여자 is the subject so it takes the subject particle -가. But you can also say:

김치는 여자가 먹어.
A woman eats the kimchi.

with the topic particle replacing the direct object particle -를. (The topic particle doesn't always replace another particle; sometimes it combines with one.)
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Re: Questions about Korean

Postby Reinder » 2011-06-30, 19:07

linguoboy wrote:Sorry, but if that's the case, then you don't know what "은/는" is/means, you only know what it is called. モモンガ is right--you could write a book on these particles (and in fact several people have). Did you even try to read the short article I linked to?

I'll read everything you linked to right now!

linguoboy wrote:김치는 여자가 먹어.
A woman eats the kimchi.

I don't understand how you could say it like this, now it sounds to me like the kimchi is eating the woman, that's not clear to me.
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Re: Questions about Korean

Postby linguoboy » 2011-06-30, 19:50

Reinder wrote:
linguoboy wrote:김치는 여자가 먹어.
A woman eats the kimchi.

I don't understand how you could say it like this, now it sounds to me like the kimchi is eating the woman, that's not clear to me.

Silly, how could "kimchi" be the subject of the sentence? It's "woman" that has the subject particle, i.e. 여자. If she were the object, there would be an object particle there instead, i.e.:

김치는 여자 먹어.
The kimchi eats a/the woman.

Moreover, pragmatics always comes into play when interpreting a sentence, no matter what the language. These two sentences sound the same in English:

"It's a woman-eating kimchi."
"It's a woman eating kimchi."

But--outside of some truly extraordinary circumstances--who would ever think it was the first meaning that was intended? That's why native speakers common drop both endings and pronouns. You'd have to be a fool to think "밥 먹었어?" means "Did rice eat?"
Last edited by linguoboy on 2011-06-30, 19:57, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Questions about Korean

Postby Reinder » 2011-06-30, 19:55

linguoboy wrote:Silly, how could "kimchi" be the subject of the sentence? It's "woman" that has the subject particle, i.e. 여자. If she were the object, there would be an object particle there instead, i.e.:

김치는 여자 먹어.
The kimchi eats a/the woman.

I really don't know the difference between subject and topic...
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Re: Questions about Korean

Postby linguoboy » 2011-07-01, 15:10

Reinder wrote:I really don't know the difference between subject and topic...

It's confusing for speakers of Germanic languages, because one of our most common methods of topicalising something is to make it the subject. That's what passivisation is all about. If we want to keep kimchi the topic, we can say, "The kimchi is eaten by a woman." But there are other methods, too, such as fronting. E.g. "As for the kimchi, a woman eats it." (Or in informal speech, even just "The kimchi, a woman eats it.") This version with fronting is very similar to 김치는 여자가 먹어. Korean just has a special particle which marks the topicalised element.
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Re: Questions about Korean

Postby モモンガ » 2011-07-07, 9:48

I think it's the hardest point of Korean grammar.
Many foreigners have problems with it.
There is also something called zero particle, you don't put any of them, if you are not sure which to use.
Tae Kim wrote about zero particle (author of online Japanese grammar - it's about Japanese, but he is Korean, and I think Korean has this feature as well).
However one cannot use it in formal writing.
Only in colloquial speech.

you never use topic particle with 누구 and 뭐, for it would not make sense.
누구는 용을 먹었어? did who eat the dragon?
who is not an actual person.



누가 냉장고에서 케이크를 먹었니?
who ate the cake from the refrigerator.

유민: 윤아가 먹었어!

it was Yuna who ate it!

it specifies that it was Yuna that ate the chocolate.

but if we need to ask what Yun-a did we answer.

윤아는 케이크를 먹었어.
As for Yun-a she ate the cake.
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Re: Questions about Korean

Postby linguoboy » 2011-07-07, 15:49

モモンガ wrote:you never use topic particle with 누구 and 뭐, for it would not make sense.
누구는 용을 먹었어? did who eat the dragon?
who is not an actual person.

This relates to what I was saying before about the topic particle marking "old news" or known information. If you have to ask "who" or "what", then by definition the information is not known to both speakers.
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Re: Questions about Korean

Postby Meera » 2011-07-25, 22:08

Hi Guys, sorry I'm posting this in here because I don't where else to post it. But I've been wanderlusting with Korean. Which I shouldn't be doing but it's summer so I'm dabbling in langauges :oops:. Anyway I was wondering, is Korean really hard as they say it is? And also I've studdied Turkish for some time and really love it especially the grammar, someone told that Korean has the simarlaties in grammar to Turkish. Is this true? Sorry with my stupid questions but I know nothing about Korean :P
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Re: Questions about Korean

Postby Karavinka » 2011-07-26, 5:11

Meera wrote:Hi Guys, sorry I'm posting this in here because I don't where else to post it. But I've been wanderlusting with Korean. Which I shouldn't be doing but it's summer so I'm dabbling in langauges :oops:. Anyway I was wondering, is Korean really hard as they say it is? And also I've studdied Turkish for some time and really love it especially the grammar, someone told that Korean has the simarlaties in grammar to Turkish. Is this true? Sorry with my stupid questions but I know nothing about Korean :P


Sure, they say it's hard... I've seen/heard some almost absurd claims. The main difficulty (other than the grammar itself) is that, in my opinion, many Koreans don't speak the standardised, normative Korean. The most difficult thing about Korean would be different levels of registers which can, if inappropriately used, seriously offend someone. (Koreans are more lenient about this if you look foreign, though..)

The basic SOV and agglutination is shared between Turkish and Korean, though I haven't studied Turkish itself so I can't really tell. You might just try it and see if it's workable for you.
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Re: Questions about Korean

Postby Meera » 2011-07-26, 14:20

Thanks so much for explaing Karavinka :D I think I'm going to try Korean.
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Re: Questions about Korean

Postby linguoboy » 2011-07-26, 14:30

Meera wrote:I think I'm going to try Korean.

Even knowing that it's quite overrated?
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Re: Questions about Korean

Postby Chekhov » 2011-07-27, 0:16

Like I said, overrated doesn't mean bad.

If you're going to learn Korean, try the writing system first. If you like it and find it easy, you won't have many problems with it.
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Re: Questions about Korean

Postby Meera » 2011-07-27, 0:53

linguoboy wrote:
Meera wrote:I think I'm going to try Korean.

Even knowing that it's quite overrated?


I never said Korean was overated.....but even if it is, I have no problem learning it. I think persian is quite overated too but I still like it. Overated doesnt mean bad.



And yes I will tr out the writting system first :)
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Re: Questions about Korean

Postby Chekhov » 2011-07-27, 0:54

I've always wanted to learn Korean and I agree that the different politeness levels are difficult, but isn't there something like that in Pashto too?
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Re: Questions about Korean

Postby Meera » 2011-07-27, 2:48

Chekhov wrote:I've always wanted to learn Korean and I agree that the different politeness levels are difficult, but isn't there something like that in Pashto too?


Yep and in Hindi, Tamil and Bengali. All South Asian Language has different ways of speaking to people who are older then you, younger then you and same as you. Tamil and Bengali aslo have different forms when you are speaking to someone near you, someone far away from you and someone very far away from you.
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Re: Questions about Korean

Postby Chekhov » 2011-07-27, 2:51

Yep and in Hindi, Tamil and Bengali. All South Asian Language has different ways of speaking to people who are older then you, younger then you and same as you.
So Korean has the same thing, only more complicated (I think there are five levels of politeness).
Tamil and Bengali aslo have different forms when you are speaking to someone near you, someone far away from you and someone very far away from you.
Just like Spanish!
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Re: Questions about Korean

Postby Meera » 2011-07-27, 2:57

Chekhov wrote:
Yep and in Hindi, Tamil and Bengali. All South Asian Language has different ways of speaking to people who are older then you, younger then you and same as you.
So Korean has the same thing, only more complicated (I think there are five levels of politeness).
Tamil and Bengali aslo have different forms when you are speaking to someone near you, someone far away from you and someone very far away from you.
Just like Spanish!



Bengali has 4 levels :P
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