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A Study on the ‘ro’-marked Object in Middle Korean

  • Journal of Humanities, Seoul National University
  • 2019, 76(3), pp.101-128
  • DOI : 10.17326/jhsnu.76.3.201908.101
  • Publisher : Institute of Humanities, Seoul National University
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities
  • Received : April 16, 2019
  • Accepted : June 4, 2019
  • Published : August 31, 2019

Taewoo Kim 1

1한양대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The oblique case marker ‘ro’ can mark the [THEME] argument of ditransitive sentences. The [THEME] argument refers to an entity that undergoes physical or mental transfer. Movement verbs, give-type verbs, say-type verbs, converse-type verbs, and mental activity verbs require a [THEME] argument as a direct object. In this case, the ‘ro’-marked direct object must precede a [RECIPIENT, GOAL] argument. The Old Chinese character 以 highly influences the ‘ro’ marking on the [THEME] direct object of ditransitive sentences in Middle Korean. However, although there is no 以, as long as the direct object is preposed, ‘ro’ can mark the direct object. We cannot observe this in Present Day Korean. The ‘ro’ marking can be explained in two ways. First, we can view ‘ro’ object marking as a differential object marking. The differential object marking, the alternation of case markers according to the meaning of predicates, is widespread cross-linguistically. But, the detailed features of ‘ro’ object marking is slightly different from those of other languages. Considering the difference as crucial, we can regard it as a markedness marking strategy. This construction seems to be the borrowing from the Old Chinese, and under this view, ‘ro’, as an instrumental marker, delimits the meaning of a verb. Meanwhile, there are accusative marker ‘ro/rɨ’ in a few dialects in Present Day Korean. This marker stems from the accusative marker ‘ɨl/rɨl’ through sound change and morphological change, and is not related to the Middle Korean direct object marker ‘lo’ which we discussed so far. The homophony is only a coincidence.

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