Friday, July 10, 2015

What does 極其操心處也 mean?

I was translating an 1882 Korean document and came across the following Chinese:
極其操心處也 (극기조심처야)
At first I was confused by the character 其 (기), but then realized the guy seemed to be writing the Chinese for the Korean expression 극히 조심할 처다, which means "A place one must be extremely careful." It seems the  (기) was used to represent the Korean particle 히, which makes Korean adjectives into adverbs.

This may have been a common way of writing at the time, but this is the first time I have noticed it.

UPDATE 1: I just remembered that 其 can mean "should," so if that is the meaning here, then the Korean would be 극히 조심해야 할 처다, which translates into English as "a place one should be extremely careful." The problem for me is that I would expect 其 (기) to come before the adverb, not after it, but a "should" in the sentence makes sense. I need to try to find some information on the order of modals and adverbs in a Chinese sentence.

UPDATE 2: I think the character used for the "히" sound is 屎. See LIST.

The character 其 is too common, already has grammar functions, and it is not pronounced "히." I should have known better. Well, at least I learned one thing: 極 (extremely) apparently comes before 其 (should), not after it.

UPDATE 3: Yes, it appears 極 (extremely) does come before 其 (should) in a Chinese sentence. Doing a Google search I found 极其操心的人, which I guess translates as either "a person who should be extremely careful" or "a person one should be extremely wary of." I am not sure which it is. Anyway, when I think of the Korean translation, it makes sense that 極 comes before 其 since 극히 (極) comes before 해야 할 (其) in Korean. That is how I will remember this.

The moral of the story is think before you post, and when you translate Chinese, keep both Korean and English sentence structures in mind, but don't go overboard.

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