-었는

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Korean[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle Korean 엇〮ᄂᆞᆫ〮 (Yale: -é-snón), equivalent to the present adnominal form of the stative continuous mood, e.g. 먹엇〮ᄂᆞᆫ〮 (Yale: mèké-snón, “eaten; which is in an eaten state”). Now grammatically equivalent to (-eot-, past-tense marker) +‎ (-neun, adnominal suffix).

Pronunciation[edit]

Romanizations
Revised Romanization?-eonneun
Revised Romanization (translit.)?eossneun
McCune–Reischauer?ŏnnŭn
Yale Romanization?essnun

Suffix[edit]

Ablaut/harmonic pair
Yin-form 었는 (-eonneun)
Yang-form 았는 (-anneun)

었는 (-eonneun)

  1. (nonstandard) Synonym of (-eun, past adnominal suffix for verbal stems; realis adnominal suffix for adjectival stems).
    아팠 몰랐어.Apanneun jul mollasseo.I didn't know you were hurt.
    었는 (Gyeongsang dialect)jip-eonneun mulwater which is/was deep; deep water

Usage notes[edit]

  • This suffix is considered nonstandard.
  • In colloquial Seoul Korean and in Jeolla Korean, this suffix usually appears before certain expressions conveying doubt or speculation, such as 몰랐다 (jul mollatda, I didn't know...), 같다 (geot gatda, I feel like...), and (deut, as if).
    • In such expressions, 었는 (-eonneun) has a nuance of emphasizing that one currently has a solid justification for such doubt or speculation.
    • For adjectives, 었는 (-eonneun) can have a nuance of emphasizing both that the state occurred in the past and that it has a continuing impact on the present. Compare simple (-eun), which can be either past or present and is hence ambiguous (and out of context usually tends to refer to the present), and (-eot-deon), which can have a nuance that the state no longer pertains to the present.
  • In Gyeongsang Korean, this suffix is essentially in free variation with (-eun). There is apparently no semantic difference between the two.

Further reading[edit]

  • 권미영 (2017), “경상방언 관형형 '었는'의 기원과 실현 양상 연구 [Study of the origin and realization of the Gyeongsang dialect adnominal -essnun]”, in Hanminjok eomunhak, volume 76, pages 1—19
  • 김태우 (2019), “'었는'의 발달에 대한 관견 [A remark on the development of -essnun]”, in Gugeohak, volume 92, DOI:10.15811/jkl.2019..92.006, pages 163—201