Register  Login  Active Topics  Maps  

Korean: 내가 and 나는

  Tags: Korean
 Language Learning Forum : Questions About Your Target Languages Post Reply
Hollow
Bilingual Triglot
Senior Member
United States
luelinks.netRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 6318 days ago

179 posts - 186 votes 
Speaks: French*, English*, SpanishB2
Studies: Korean

 
 Message 1 of 4
19 January 2008 at 6:28pm | IP Logged 
Hello all
Thanks to Jiwon for being so helpful in my other thread. I have another rather beginner question. This one, like my previous question, falls in the territory of 'things I think I understand but am never sure about', so I thought I might as well ask it and try to get as clear an understanding as possible.

From what I was taught, 나는 is the more or less 'generic' way of saying "I" in Korean; that is to say, if you want to use an indicative sentence with no particular emphasis: I went to the store-- 나는 가게에 갔다. (actually I'm not sure if that is the correct way to say 'store' when you want to sound generic. oh well.)

But if you wish to place special emphasis on yourself, you say 내가/제가:

I am the one who went to the store (as opposed to my sister): 내가 갔어요.


First of all, I'm not sure if this is the correct way of understanding the difference: is it?
Secondly, if this is so, why do I hear 내가 so often? It seems to pop up in sentences where it is not needed (that's in keeping with my possibly faulty previous definition, of course; all the reason why I'm asking is someone might provide a better one.)

Example: lyrics

"내가 나를 모를때까지"

'Until I don't know myself'. But why the 내가 here?


All of this is basically just to ask if someone could give me a definition clearer than the one given offhand in a conversation with a friend a while ago.
Thanks!
1 person has voted this message useful





Jiwon
Triglot
Moderator
Korea, South
Joined 6215 days ago

1417 posts - 1500 votes 
Speaks: EnglishC2, Korean*, GermanC1
Studies: Hindi, Spanish
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 2 of 4
20 January 2008 at 12:23am | IP Logged 
Yes, that's how most text books would define the particles. However, the way I see it is a bit different, but still works well.

-는/은 is used as a topic marker. In other words, they tell you what the focus of the sentence is. This is because the word followed by this MUST be in the beginning of the sentence.

-가/이 is used as the "subject" marker. Here, subject mean the person on thing that carries out the action.

-를/을 acts as the "object" marker, the person or the thing which the action is applied to.

So if we take a sentence such as:
"사과는 내가 먹었다."
Here, 사과 is marked to be the topic, and I is marked as the subject. Which means "I ate the apple" with emphasis on "apple", Because the apple is in the beginning.

"나는 사과를 먹었다"
Same meaning, but more report-like. You would come across this pattern in written Korean, but not much in daily conversations. Here, the focus is on the action of eating the apple itself.

"내가 사과를 먹었다."
Again, this sentence means the same. Wait, but it doesn't have 는/를. Well, it doesn't matter. It have both the subject and the object markers. Here, the emphasis lies on the subject "I". However, in more complex sentences, this whole business of emphasis is negligible.

The sentence you have given, would then be analysed as
"I+(subject marker)+I+(object marker)+(to not know)+(until)"

In speeches and conversations, we tend to use 는/을 only after the object (ie "사과는 내가 먹었다."). To denote "나는 사과를 먹었다." we tend to use "내가 사과를 먹었다.", largely because the former suits the written language more than the spoken language.

Hope I'm not confusing you any further.. or am I? :)

Edited by Jiwon on 20 January 2008 at 12:25am

1 person has voted this message useful



hagen
Triglot
Senior Member
Germany
Joined 6739 days ago

171 posts - 179 votes 
6 sounds
Speaks: German*, English, Mandarin
Studies: Korean

 
 Message 3 of 4
20 January 2008 at 2:08am | IP Logged 
Jiwon wrote:
-는/은 is used as a topic marker. In other words, they tell you what the focus of the sentence is. This is because the word followed by this MUST be in the beginning of the sentence.


Thank you for the explanation, even if, with the distinction of spoken and written usage, it introduces a new complication. ;-)

I think the key here is the topic/focus (or theme/rheme) contrast (cf. e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topic-comment). "emphasis" on the other hand doesn't really seem to capture it.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you can analyse the examples like this:

"사과는 내가 먹었다"
사과 is moved "into the background", so 나 has to be the new information.
There was an apple around in the conversation before, but that it's ME who has eaten it, that's new information.

"나는 사과를 먹었다"
나 is moved into the background. Of course, this makes it report-like, since in a report of what I did, I myself are constantly "old information" and the things I did are "new information" - e.g. eating an apple.

"내가 사과를 먹었다"
I guess this has to count as neutral with respect to topic/focus. Therefore, relative to 나는, 내가 would be "more in the foreground". Perhaps I haven't yet talked for half an hour about all the things I did, so that the sentence is about me isn't yet old information. Consequently this would be more natural in dialog. (From what I hear you shouldn't use 내가 too much as it makes you sound a bit self-centered.)

Do you agree with this analysis? Do you think it accounts for the perceived differences in spoken and written usage?

1 person has voted this message useful





Jiwon
Triglot
Moderator
Korea, South
Joined 6215 days ago

1417 posts - 1500 votes 
Speaks: EnglishC2, Korean*, GermanC1
Studies: Hindi, Spanish
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 4 of 4
20 January 2008 at 2:27am | IP Logged 
Yes, That's more or less what I was trying to say. The word proceeding 는/은 is what you have been talking about, hence the topic of the conversation and the sentence. If you follow your analysis, I doubt you would get into any trouble.

Also, note that if used with other verb endings, "나는 사과를-" form can also be used conversationally.

나는 사과를 먹었는데.
나는 사과를 먹었잖아.
나는 사과를 먹었지.
나는 사과를 먹었다고.
And so on and so forth (unless you want me to type out all +600 verb endings. :P


1 person has voted this message useful



If you wish to post a reply to this topic you must first login. If you are not already registered you must first register


Post ReplyPost New Topic Printable version Printable version

You cannot post new topics in this forum - You cannot reply to topics in this forum - You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum - You cannot create polls in this forum - You cannot vote in polls in this forum


This page was generated in 0.2500 seconds.


DHTML Menu By Milonic JavaScript
Copyright 2024 FX Micheloud - All rights reserved
No part of this website may be copied by any means without my written authorization.