an example of a single use of 든가

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Senior Member
I have brought up a couple instances before but I've never grasped a good sense of its use. 든지 and 든가 are typically used for a list of alternate actions and states corresponding to whether... or..
in english. However from time to time I have noticed 든지 and its twin 든가 could be used in a sentence singly. Here's a title of an article

이놈의 대통령제를 없애든가 해야지...

There's no stated alternate list of any action. There's only 1 action. No alternative list. Nada

In cases like above, how best is it to interpret the sense of 든가? In fact, if someone could provide a good translation of the title highlighting 든가 that would be great

I would attempt my own version of translating that title
"Out of all possible choices, we should start by getting rid of this man's presidential system"

This question could very well relate to the instance where 거나 occurs alone since in another post it was brought up that it could stand on its own similar to 든지.
  • kenjoluma

    Senior Member
    '이 놈의 대통령제를 없애든가 해야지...'
    '(we should) get rid of this damn presidential system or something...'

    In this example, although there is only one option visible, actually there are many other options omitted for some reason. The speaker urges to do something to change, and getting rid of presidential system is one option he or she can suggest.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    Choo & Kwack, Using Korean (2008) have a sizeable collection of examples of "singleton" ~(으)나 / ~던가 /~든(지) usages in their "Conjunctives" chapter, section 21.1.3, pp. 277-8, all glossed as "or something [like that].

    I'd be inclined to translate the usage in the original sentence as " doing something like / along the lines of / getting rid of..."

    It's noticeable, however, that in their section on ~든지, Yeon and Brown, Korean. A Comprehensive Grammar (2010), section 6.4.2, pp. 304-5 seem to pass over the "singleton" usage almost entirely. Except at the very end of the section, where they add as "one additional function" something that looks pretty close to the original case here. One of their examples is

    "텔레비전을 고칠 주 없으면 그냥 버리든지요" = " could just throw it away or something".

    But I think classing this as an "additional function" of this specific pattern is a bit misleading
    , since it seems to me an example of a more general case where Korean uses constructions which theoretically require one or more alternatives to be stated, but actually leaves those alternatives purely implicit. A sort verbal vague wave of the hand, implying "fill in the blanks yourself".​
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