It’s Korean time again! People seem to really be enjoying learning Korean grammar using the Bible. I’m glad. One of the ways I have always developed languages that I have studied is by reading the Bible in that language. It took a lot of work for me to learn to understand the Korean Bible. It was harder than when I learned to understand the Romanian Bible or the Spanish Bible because Romanian and Spanish are Latin languages, and the grammar and vocabulary are just close enough to English that I didn’t have to be on a very high level before I could use the Spanish and Romanian Bibles and learn vocabular from context and recognize vocabulary words that were like English. However, English speakers don’t have that advantage with Korean or Japanese. My Japanese Bible is packed and will get out of storage soon, and then people who are interested in learning Japanese grammar using the Bible will be able to read bogs where I will explain the Japanese grammar using the Bible too. The nice thing is that Japanese and Korean grammar are similar just as Spanish and Romanian grammar are similar. However, Spanish and Romanian have more vocabulary words in common than Japanese and Korean even though they have some words in common. Now, let’s get on to Korean grammar using the love chapter. Today, we are in 1 Corinthians 13: 5.
Verse 5: 물례히 행하지 아니하며 자기의 유익을 구 하지 아니며 성내지 아니하면 악한 것을 생각하지 아니하며
물례히 행하지 아니며 – “it doesn’t act rudely, and.” 물례히 means “rudely.” You can tell it is an adverb because it ends in 히. Any word that ends in 히 in Korean is an adverb. It is like when we put “ly” on the end of our verbs in English. We know that all words ending in “ly” are adverbs. An adverb tells about a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. In this case, 물례히 (rudely) tells about “행하지 아니” which is a negative verb meaning “don’t or doesn’t do.” If you look in the Bible, you can find. 행 in the name of the book of Acts in Korean: 사도 행전. The whole name of “Acts” in English is “The Acts of the Apostles,” and in Korean, you have 사도 = apostle or apostles. 행 = act or acts. Anyway, you can see that they also call Acts of the Apostles the same thing in Korean, and 행 means “act.” 행하지 comes from 행하다 meaning “to do acts.” As I have told you before, that 지 on the end tells you a negative, 아니 (meaning no or not) is coming. 며 means “and.” You can’t actually find a pronoun in the Korean clause, and you have to think of it like the English “understood you.” The pronoun is there, but you can’t see it. Korean often leaves pronouns out, and we must guess from the context which pronoun is being used. In this case, it has to be “it” referring to “love” from verse 4 because verse 5 is a continuation of the sentence begun in verse 4 in Korean because verse 4 in Korean ended with 며 meaning “and.” “Love doesn’t act rudely.”
자기의 유익을 구하지 아니며 – “It doesn’t ask for its benefit, and,” 자기 means “itself” 의 is the post position particle that is a possessive like the apostrophe “s” in English. In this sentence, is functions exactly the same as apostrophe “s.” 유익 means benefit, and the 을 tacked on the end of it is a post position particle that tells you that 유익 is the direct object. A direct object is a noun or a pronoun that receives the action of the verb. The verb in this clause is 구하지 아니which means ” not to ask for.” 구하지 comes from 구하다 which means “to ask for.” 구기지 has that 지 on the end signaling you that a negative is coming again, 아니. Again, this clause ends with 며 meaning “and.” The understood pronoun here is “it” referring to “love” again. “Love doesn’t ask for its benefit.”
생내지 아니하며 – “it doesn’t lose its temper, and.” That 며 is “and” again. 생내다 means “to loose one’s temper.” Take the 다 off the end, and put 지, and you recognize a negative is coming, 아니. “It” is the understood pronoun inside of 생내지 아니 referring to “love” : ” Love doesn’t loose its temper.”
악한 것을 생각 하지 아니하며 – “It doesn’t think wicked things.” 악한 comes from 악하다 which means “to do wickedness.” 악’ means “wickedness.” In fact, 악마 means “devil.” 하다, again means “to do,” but that verb is changed into an adjective by changing 하다 to 한. That 악한 describes 것 which means “thing,” so 악한 것 means “wicked thing.” In Korean, they have a post position particle that makes a word plural like our “s” does, but they don’t consider it important, and often, if it is plural, they just leave that post position particle out, and it is left out here. The specificity of English is really hard for Koreans to get used to because Korean is supposed to be non specific so they leave out pronouns, leave out 들 (s), and at times, other things we think that are important too. The 을 after 악한것 (wicked things) means that 악한것 is the direct object taking the direct action of the verb, 생각 하하지 아니 (meaning “don’t think.”) 생각 means “thought,” a noun, a thing. 생각 하다 means “to think,” and changing it to “생각하지” tells you a negative is coming, 아니 which means “no, not, don’t, or “doesn’t.” And again, this clause ends with 며 meaning “and” which means this sentence is going to continue on into verse 6. The understood pronoun here is “it” referring to “love” from verse 4: “Love doesn’t think wicked things.”
Putting it all together: “Love doesn’t act rudely, and love doesn’t ask for its own benefit, and love doesn’t lose its temper, and love doesn’t think wicked things, and..”
As you can see, Korean grammar is actually pretty logical even if it is complicated. One of the hard parts about this is the verses 4, 5, 6, and 7 in Korean are all one sentence, but in English, we have several sentences in those verses. In English, we are told not to make long sentences when we write because even if the grammar is correct, the reader will lose the meaning by the time they get to the end. When we write in English, some sentences are allowed to be a bit long, but never as long as four verses long. Had I not told you what the understood pronoun “it” in these clauses referred to, love, you would have easily lost the meaning. As an English professor, in my essay writing classes, I would write a sentence that was five lines long for my sentences. After that, I would let them read the sentence and see how hard it was to understand a sentence that long. Extremely long sentences in English writing is called “conversational style.” When we write essays or some formal document, like the Bible, we are never to use conversational style. However, it is just fine in Korean to make your sentences that long. It makes the reader really have to work to understand what they are reading even more. You will also notice in Korean that there is no punctuation used. You can only tell the beginning and ending of a sentence by the grammar. You can only tell the punctuation inside the sentences by the grammar. In many ways, that 며 could be thought of as a comma because it is a kind of “and” that is only used when you write.