In Korean, the plural can be marked with the suffix 들, although there are many cases where English would take plural, but Korean does not. But lately I’ve noticed some really interesting uses of the plural suffix 들 in Korean, being applied to things other than nouns / pronouns. One example is here:
Here, 들 is added to the adverb 어서 (quickly). Literally, this is “Quickly(s), come!” and is often shouted at children. Not one child, but many; in other words, the plural really seems to apply to the subject, which is missing.
The other day I encountered a really weird use of the plural in a novel I’m reading:
뱀이 천 년간 덕을 쌓으면 용이 된다고들 하는데 …
Rougly translated “They say if a snake does good deeds for 1000 years he’ll become a dragon”, but of course there is no “They” in the sentence; in Korean, it’s easy to use the quotative without a subject, thus not letting us know exactly who is saying it.
What’s interesting is that plural 들 is added to the quotative verb: 용이 된다고들, which is reported speech “it becomes a dragon”, but with 들 on the end. Which suggests that it’s not one person who says this, but many people, or people in general. It’s by no means necessary, but it does emphasize that it is people (not one person) who say that a snake might become a dragon.
Well, now that I’ve seen these two, I’m on the lookout for other interesting uses of 들.
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