당신 in modern Korean writing to mean indefinite/impersonal "you"?

Anatoli

Senior Member
русский (Russian), home country: English
Hi.

In my, not so long observation 당신 is sometimes not only used in grammar book or phrasebooks when writers are sort of forced to use "you" to avoid any ambiguity (or just as a filler to replace a more appropriate noun or pronoun) but also in fiction, at least in translations from foreign languages in the same sense as the English "you", for example, "당신이 상상하는 것처럼" (as you can imagine), addressing the reader in this case.

Is this a modern trend or has it been normal to use 당신 in such cases?
 
  • KalikaC

    New Member
    Korean
    Hello Anatoli,

    first, 당신 is a rather complicated second person pronoun because it can be used in completely different situations.
    The 4 major situations that you would use 당신 are as below.

    1. Love, your wife 사랑을 담아, 당신의 아내
    -> between husband and wife, being very formal and respective, you can you 당신 to direct your spouse.
    the example sentence is something that you would write like at the end of a letter, adressing yourself as the wife.
    but again, 당신 is usually very formal and old-fashioned, so you would use this unless you're writing or intent to sound like so.

    2. Things you must know 당신이 꼭 알아야 할 사실들
    -> like you have observed correctly, 당신 is usually used in a wrriten language as this sounds very formal and respective.
    and yes, it's a modern trend because of tranlated books. it doesn't sound wrong, but a well read Korean would spot that it's a translated sentence because Korean(language) doesn't like using pronouns. meaning, it sounds less Korean when you use pronouns. so it usually sounds very weird when you use 그, 그녀(He, She) in a spoken language.
    so if it's "she did it"(say 'she' is Alex) in english, it's better to translate as "알렉스가 했어"(Alex did it) we never say "그녀가 했어" in person.

    3. is it you who did this? 이 일을 한 사람이 당신이오?
    -> this is very formal(thus, 존댓말), and very old-fashioned use of 당신. so you wouldn't really hear this in a modern setting.

    4. you wanna fight, you punk? 당신, 나랑 한판 할래?
    -> Ironically enough, 당신 is sometimes used as an insult. like, if you adress a stranger and use 당신 and sound angry, then it sounds like insult. but this is not the language that young people would use. I'd say this would sound natural when used by at least a 40-50 year old.


    Hope it helped!
    and as my grammar is not perfect, you're always welcomed to correct any one of my mistakes if you feel like it!
    thanks!
     
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