tight-fitting preposition?

Discussion in '한국어 (Korean)' started by humvee, Feb 20, 2014.

  1. humvee Senior Member

    Shenzhen City China
    Cantonese and Mandarin
    Hi Korean speakers.

    I've been reading a book on cognitive science and I came across an interesting discussion of Korean prepositions.

    First allow me to quote a brief paragraph.

    "In English, the prepositions such as ‘on’ or ‘in’ are used in reference to two touching objects. In Korean, objects are also said to fit loosely or tightly together. "

    My question is, what are those two prepositions, or words, presumably in Korean?

    If my memory serves, one of the words seem to begin with k, kiita maybe. Doesn't ring a bell.

    Could you please shed more light on this for me. Two examples of Korean sentences showing contrast with English transliteration is of

    great help. I will learn them word by word. Thank y'all in advance!
  2. Kross

    Kross Senior Member

    In Korean, we don't have prepositions, but have some noun-particles functioning as prepositons in English. But they are very limited, so I cannot come up with anything that matches your question as of now.

    The kiita you mentioned sounds like 기타. That means "etc" in English.

    Let's wait for other thoughts from other natives.
  3. humvee Senior Member

    Shenzhen City China
    Cantonese and Mandarin
    Hi Kross, thanks for your reply.

    I think I find one of the word, it's kkita.

    I believe in your discussion that there might be no prepositions in Korean. Historically speaking, prepositions derived from verbs. Korean might not go under the same grammaticalization as English do to develop a distinct catagory as a preposition. But this hardly concerns us here because verbs can serve the similar purposes as preposition do.

    I will make up a contrast here because the book is not at hand.

    The book is on the table.
    The pen cap is on the pen tip.

    In the sentences above, English speakers use on for both cases.

    But Korean might use different verbs(your emphasis) to express this "prepositional" functions.

    That said, the first "on" is loosely fitting, the second "on" is tightly fitting.

    And researchers do experiments to elicit the the differences that Korean speakers probably know subconciously.

    The conclusion is, language affects thought.
  4. BrightWarmWater New Member

    I think it's closer to '끼다: kki-da', meaning 'be fitting tightely'. 'kki-da' is the short form of '끼우다: kki-u-da', meaning 'put something on another and make them tight'. Here, you might be confused because they have opposite subjects as kki-da has something subjects while kki-u-da has someone subjects. I think it's because 'kki-da' have became to have both subjects in spoken(or even so written) korean by the process of shortening 'kki-u-da' into 'kki-da'. However still 'kki-u-da' has only someone subjects because it contains a kind of nuance of 'make' in english.
    Korean does not have prepositions like English, but have some jo-sa(s) partially working like prepositions, and also others, in wider and brief ways. However I don't mean it in terms of grammartical usage because how to use jo-sas and prepositions are quite different. Prepositions are to be present in front of nouns while jo-sas are in back of nouns, adverbs or verb-tails(specific concept of korean verbs' usage, not the same with surfaces in english yet quite close in some ways).
    The first one might mean 'being, touching something, possibly on(can't explain without on...) the top of it.' Right? To express this, korean uses jo-sa '에' [e or eh] in back of a noun, in this case, 탁자 [tak-ja] meaning table. So the sentence is going to be '그 책이 그 탁자에 있다'. However '에' is not excat for 'on', because '에' is used for 'at' as well. So sometimes you might want to use '위에' for 'on' to emphasize being on 'the top of' it.
    The second one is the thing that I think. In this case 'is on' can be translated into '끼어있다', in short '껴있다'. '끼어있다' is the passive form of '끼다: kki-da'. So korean uses the passive form of verb 'kki-da' rather than verb+preposition as in english to express the sentence.
    Lerning english as a korean and comparing the two laguages, I've thought people know almost every difference of many situations though they might use different languages. It's because to tell about some situations they are in or have been through, people manage to develop their own languages. It's more obvious when the situations are universal.
  5. humvee Senior Member

    Shenzhen City China
    Cantonese and Mandarin
    Hi Brightwarmwater. Thank you for your detailed explanation!

    I find an even better citation:

    Concepts of containment, support, and degree of fit were investigated using nonverbal, preferential-looking tasks with 9- to 14-month-old infants and adults who were fluent in either English or Korean. Two contrasts were tested: tight containment vs. loose support (grammaticized as 'in' and 'on' in English by spatial prepositions and 'kkita' and 'nohta' in Korean by spatial verbs) and tight containment vs. loose containment (both grammaticized as 'in' in English but separately as 'kkita' and 'nehta' in Korean). Infants categorized both contrasts, suggesting conceptual readiness for learning such spatial semantics in either language. English-speaking adults categorized tight containment vs. loose support, but not tight vs. loose containment. However, Korean-speaking adults were successful at this latter contrast, which is lexicalized in their language. The adult data suggest that some spatial relations that are salient during the preverbal stage become less salient if language does not systematically encode them.

    I don't understand, nehra or nohta? Is it vowel harmony or what?

    Also, could you please kindly make two sentences to show how to use kkita and nehta? I will learn it word by word. My reason for that is, like, in a seminar about language books, we not only just say something is so and so but to pronunce it. Many thanks!
  6. BrightWarmWater New Member

    One thing I meant above was that phrasal verbs in english and their preposition itself cannot perfectly replaced with verbs and jo-sas and of course, their combination in korean, so you often need to use korean verbs in different ways to explain the same situation.

    Yes, that citation explains better. Even there you can see in and on are partially(like this case) replaced with korean verbs, yet still they can be replaced with jo-sas from a different perspective. For 'kki-da', 'noh-ta' and 'neh-ta', they are all verbs to have different meanings. I think they are close to infinite in english(unchaged verbs maybe?), because they can be found in dictionaries as basic verbs in korean. So they are not the case of vowel harmony. 'kki-da' means like 'put something on or in another tightly', while 'noh-ta' like 'put somthing on another loosely' and 'neh-ta' like 'put something in another loosely'. For examples, 'kki-da' can be used like '(손에) 장갑을 끼다', meaning 'put gloves (on (hands))', 'noh-ta' can be '(탁자에) 장갑을 놓다.', meaning 'put gloves (on (a table))' and 'neh-ta' can be '(세탁기에) 장갑을 넣다', meaning 'put gloves (in(to) (a washing machine))'. For 'kki-da' with 'in' nuance can be used like '(코에) 휴지를 끼다', meaning 'put tissues (in (a nose))'. The thing is I used double (paired) brackets in the english sentences for single (paired) brackets in the korean sentences. Like I said before, 'verbs and prepositions' in english overlaps 'verbs and jo-sas' in korean "partially". All the korean sentences have '에' as a jo-sa, as in '손에', '탁자에', '세탁기에' and '코에' and each mean each preposition and noun in english. However with or without jo-sa '에', korean tells one verb from the others by the verb itself, while in this case english uses 'put' in each sentence and cannot tells each other by the verb itself without each preposition.

    By the way, 'kki-ta' cannot exist because chaging sound from 'da' to 'ta' in korean verb-tales depends on the h sound in end of verb roots in korean, like no'h' or ne'h'. So you might want to use 'kki-da' rather than 'kki-ta'. I think it's because americans(or other english speakers) pronounse t sound more weakly than korean(or korean strongly), so some koreans and americans replace korean d sound with english t sound. You can find it as in 'Busan to Pusan' or 'ba(r)k to pa(r)k'.
  7. BrightWarmWater New Member

    Explaining very difference between korean and english in english, even about grammar and nuance feels like hell...but helps me to develop my english...
  8. Kross

    Kross Senior Member

    I cannot agree with you more. But that can also lead to understand and study the Korean deeper.

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