Korean, as we know, is nearly always a verb final language. However, one exception to this strong tendency I have observed is the reading of (at least some) mathematical operators.

For example, 1 + 1 might be read as "1 플라스 1".

It makes sense to do this because Korean is read left to right typically, like languages using the Latin alphabet.

A couple things I am wondering:

  • Does usage like the example I provided (1 + 1) match other people's experience? Or am I just listening to especially Western influenced Korean? Is this the "proper" way to read this expression?
  • Are there any other examples of borrowed "verbs" taking syntax from another language in Korean? (i.e. the word ordering borrowed from either English, or mathematical notation generally here)

There is a another question with some good information about how to read the names of much mathematical terminology, but this post did not contain too many syntactic details.

1 Answer 1

  1. 1+1 is commonly read as "일 더하기 일", though you could probably also use "일 플러스 일". Usually, 플러스/마이너스 is reserved for signed numbers like +3, -5, etc. So, (-3)+(+5) would be "마이너스 삼 더하기 플러스 오".

  2. I'm not sure why you're talking about "verbs". None of "plus", "minus", and "times" are verbs in English, and even though "더하기/빼기/곱하기/나누기" came from verbs (더하다/빼다/곱하다/나누다), they are really special expressions reserved for reading mathematical formulas, and do not behave like other verb forms at all.

  3. If you really want to use actual verbs, you could use expressions like "일에 일을 더한 값" (i.e., "the result of adding one to one").

  • Thanks for this answer; the first bit about signed numbers was especially insightful. I think you are right about the English "plus" and "minus" not functioning like most verbs, now that I think about it.
    – haksayng
    Aug 2, 2017 at 1:57

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