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영어 바로쓰기-한국식 영어의 허점과 오류-작문편 (5)
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Let's take a little break from the newspapers and begin this month's column with one of the English labels from a display at the Korean Kimchi Museum. In fact the general level of the English explanations at that museum is very high, but this sentence is the exception:

1) xxx- It has been more than 200 years since special containers were made exclusively for kimchi. -xxx

It is obvious from the context of the exhibition that the label is meant to indicate that Koreans have been making special kimchi containers for more than 200 years. But that is not the meaning conveyed by sentence #1. The problem is in the phrase, 'It has been (period of time) since (event)'.

Consider this sentence: 'It has been more than six years since I saw my brother." This sentence means that the speaker saw his brother. The pattern, 'it has been (period of time) since (event or state)', emphasizes the absence of that event or state during the period between the time designated by the 'since…' phrase and the present. Thus, sentence #1 suggests that Koreans have not been making special kimchi containers during the past 200 years, that for some reason they stopped making kimchi containers over 200 years ago. But that is obviously not true, and is certainly not what the label was meant to convey. Now consider this version:

1a) ok- It has been more than 200 years since special containers were first made exclusively for kimchi.

In this version, with the edition of the word, 'first', the 'since…' phrase refers to the start of a process, and the implication is that the process has continued 'ever since' that time. And this, of course, is precisely what the label was meant to express. Another version would be:

1b) ok- It has been more than 200 years since the introduction of special containers made exclusively for kimchi.

Again, with the word, 'introduction', the 'since' phrase refers to the start of a process, with the implication that the process has continued. We can do the same thing with the word, 'began':

1c) ok- More than 200 years have passed since Koreans began making special containers exclusively for kimchi.

There are also several good ways to convey the same idea without using 'since' at all:

1d) ok- For more than 200 years, Koreans have been making special containers exclusively for kimchi.

1e) ok- The manufacture of special kimchi containers has been going on for more than 200 years.

The important point, though, is that the phrase, 'It has been (time period) since (event or state)', with most verbs in the past tense, indicates the absence of some event or state during the period between the time designated by the 'since…' phrase and the present. Only by using words like 'begin', 'start', 'introduce', etc. can we convey the idea that some process has continued throughout that period. Thus, "It has been three years since I played tennis." Means that the speaker has not played tennis during the last three years, whereas, "It has been three years since I started playing tennis," indicates that the speaker began to play tennis three years ago and has continued playing tennis during the period between then and now.

Now let's return to the world of newspapers. Please look at this example:

2) xxx- The office of Patents said that foreign manufacturer’s complaints against the violation into industrial property rights with the office totaled 86 cases. -xxx

The first problem here is the preposition, 'into'. The word, 'violation' is almost always attached to 'of'. We speak of a criminal's violation of a law, a government's violation of a person's civil rights, a dishonest businessman's violation of a contract, etc. So in sentence #2, the writer should have written, 'violation of industrial property rights'.

But there is another problem. Look at the phrase, '…with the office'. It is not at all clear what that prepositional phrase is supposed to refer to, is it? Two verbs that are commonly used to refer to the process of making an official complaint at 'lodge' and 'file'. Thus, we could say, 'A manufacturer filed a complaint with the office,' or, 'A manufacturer filed a complaint with the office,' in which case it would be clear how the prepositional phrase, 'with the office' was meant to function. But as it stands in sentence #2, just dangling at the end of the sentence, 'with the office' has no clear reference. Here is a better version:

2a) ok- The office of Patents said that foreign manufacturers' have filed a total of 86 complaints against violations of industrial property rights with the office.

But this version is still somewhat awkward because the prepositional phrase, 'with the office', is placed rather far from the verbal phrase, 'to file a complaint'. Here is a better version:

2b) ok- The office of Patents said they have received a total of 86 complaints from foreign manufacturers against violations of industrial property rights.

Now see if you can find the problem in this sentence:

3) xxx- Ruling party nominee Roh Tae-woo addressed a large crowd here that the coming era would be a period of democratic reforms. -xxx

You may recall that previous columns have treated problem sentences in which transitive verbs related to the act of speaking were incorrectly used with 'that….' Clauses. You have already learned that it is incorrect to say xxx- He analyzed that…. -xxx, or xxx- He criticized that… -xxx Well, problem sentence #3 is another example of the same type of mistake. 'Address' is a transitive verb meaning 'to speak to ___', 'to make a formal speech to ___' (as in this example), or 'to direct a spoken or written message to the attention of ___'. Thus, it is perfectly correct to say, 'The politician addressed the audience,' or, 'Roh Tae-woo addressed a large crowd'. However, since 'address' is a transitive verb, we cannot use it with a 'that…' clause to indicate the content of a speaker's address.

The verb, 'tell', on the other hand, can be used with an indirect object and a 'that…' clause. It is perfectly correct, for example, to say, 'My uncle told me that his company might offer me a job.' So, one way to correct sentence #3 would be:

3a) ok- Ruling party nominee Roh Tae-woo told a large crowd here that the coming era would be a period of democratic reforms.

Of course the most common speech-reporting verb is 'to say', and it can be used with a 'that…' clause, but not with an indirect object. Here are two correct versions of sentence #3 which use 'to say':

3b) ok- Addressing a large crowd here, ruling party nominee Roh Tae-woo said that the coming era would be a period of democratic reforms.

3c) ok- Speaking to [or 'before' 'in front of'] a large crowd here, ruling party nominee Roh Tae-woo said that the coming era…

Two other verbs which might be used in place of 'said' in this particular example are 'predicted' and 'promised'.

With that problem in mind, take a look at this sentence:

4) xxx- In a statement, Lee accented, "Such violence will be investigated with the maximum police power which can be mobilized."

Sentence #4 is yet another instance of the incorrect use of a verb introducing quoted speech. The verb, 'to accent', can, indeed be used to mean 'to accentuate___; to call attention to___'. In meaning, the verb, 'to accent', is similar to the verb, 'to stress'. But once again, the verb, 'to accent', is transitive. It must be associated with a direct object. It cannot be used with a 'that…' clause or before a direct quotation. It would thus be correct to say:

4a) ok- In a statement, Lee accented the government's intention to mobilize all available police power to investigate such violence.

4b) ok- Lee made a statement accenting the government's determination to investigate such violence with all available police power.

These are both grammatically correct uses of the verb, 'to accent', since they attach direct objects ('intention', 'determination') to that transitive verb. However, the verb, 'accent', is not especially appropriate in this context. In fact, Lee's statement was really a 'promise', or a 'vow'. Since those words also have verbal forms, they can be used to make good versions of the sentence:

4c) ok- Lee made a statement vowing to mobilize all available police force to investigate such violence.

4d) ok- In a statement, Lee promised to…

Of course none of these corrected versions give a direct quotation. Here is a version that preserves the direct quotation:

4e) ok- "Such violence will be investigated with the maximum police power which can be mobilized." Lee pledged in his statement to a group of reporters yesterday.

Here's another problem sentence from a newspaper. See how quickly you can spot the problem:

5) xxx- The management agreed to correct the discrimination against engineers and other skilled personnel until June of next year. -xxx

If you don't see a very serious problem very quickly, you are certainly a native speaker of Korean-English! In Korean-English the word, 'until', is very frequently used to mean 'by'. But in English, the two words have absolutely different meanings. The word, 'until', refers to a point in time at which some CHANGE occurs. 'Until' tells us that events or situations which existed before that moment CHANGE or CEASE TO EXIST at that moment. For example, "I will stay with you until your husband comes home," indicates that a situation exists (I am with you) but that at a certain moment (the moment your husband returns), the situation will CHANGE (I will no longer stay with you; I will leave). In the sentence, "I didn't understand geometry until I read this book," there is an ongoing situation (I do not understand geometry), and at a certain moment (when I read this book) the situation CHANGES (and now I DO understand geometry). The point is that 'until' indicates a point in time at which a CHANGE occurs.

The word, 'by', also indicates a moment in time, but it DOES NOT INDICATE that any CHANGE occurs at that moment. Instead, 'by' simply introduces information about events that occurred or situations that existed at some unspecified time before that moment. Thus, "I'm leaving home now and I'll get to your house by two o'clock," points to a certain moment in time (two o'clock) and indicates that at some (unspecified) time before that moment, a certain situation will exist or event (I will arrive at your house) will occur. There is no indication of CHANGE! Here are two sentences to illustrate the difference:

a) I was very hungry by seven o'clock.

b) I was very hungry until seven o'clock.

If you understand the difference between 'by' and 'until', you can see that these sentences refer to completely different situations. The sentences with 'by' says nothing about and CHANGE in the situation. It simply means that in the period before seven o'clock, the speaker's hunger developed. But the sentence with 'until' indicates that some definite CHANGE occurred at seven o'clock and after that, the speaker was no longer hungry. You can see this clearly if you put the sentences in context:

a) I didn't have any lunch that day, so I was very hungry by seven o'clock. By eight o'clock I was so hungry I could hardly stand up. I finally ate dinner at eight-thirty.

b) I was very hungry until seven o'clock, when my wife brought me a delicious, huge dinner, which I immediately ate. Then, of course, I was no longer hungry.

Understanding that 'until' and 'by' have completely different meanings, you can now look back at problem sentence #5. The idea the writer meant to convey is that the management has promised to correct a certain problem, and it has accepted this coming June as the time before which the correction will be made. Does this mean that a CHANGE will occur in June? Certainly not! "we will correct the problem, but that in June something will CHANGE and we will stop correcting the problem. That isn't what the writer meant at all.

The idea the writer wanted to convey is that the management promised that at some unspecified time prior to June the problem will be corrected. No particular change will occur in June. Obviously, then, the correct word would be 'by':

5a) ok- The management agreed to correct the discrimination against engineers and other skilled personnel by June of next year.

The next problem is less serious, but still worth considering and correcting:

6) xxx- Cha met the press at Essen, West Germany, in which the 15th World Judo Championships are being held. -xxx

We do not usually use the phrase, 'in which', with a proper noun naming a city, country, etc. Instead, we use 'where'. Thus, the correct version of this sentence would be:

6a) ok- Cha met the press at Essen, West Germany, where the 15th world Judo Championships are being held.

It is, however, possible to use 'in which' with a place that has been mentioned earlier in the sentence with a common noun (i.e., not a proper noun). Thus, it would be acceptable to write, ok- cha met the press at Essen, West German, the city in which the 15th world Judo Championships are being held. -ok This version is correct because the phrase, 'in which', is associated with the common noun, 'city'. However, it is not as simple and elegant as 6a, which uses 'where'. In general, I recommend using 'where', rather than 'in which' when referring to places, whether designated by common or proper nouns.

Let's finish this month's column with a problem that is more stylistic than grammatical:

7) xxx- They, holding umbrellas in the cold rain, listened attentively to Kim and cheered during his speech. -xxx

There is nothing grammatically wrong with this sentences, and the meaning is perfectly clear. However, it seems awkward and unbalanced. The subject is a single word, the pronoun, 'they'. Between the subject and the verb there is a participial phrase, 'holding umbrellas in the cold rain'. The sense of awkwardness and lack of balance comes, I think, from the fact that the single-word subject is left standing by itself, isolated from the predicate. Here is how I would have written that sentence:

7a) ok- Holding umbrellas in the cold rain, they listened attentively to Kim and cheered during his speech.

Don't you agree that this version reads much more smoothly? It is not grammatically wrong to separate a subject from a predicate with a participial phrase, but I think it is usually best to avoid doing it. In particular, I would avoid isolating a single-word subject, especially if the subject is a mere pronoun, like 'they'. As version 7a) shows, it is quite easy to bring the subject closer to the predicate by starting the sentence with the participial phrase.


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