Constraints on the Perfective [V-ko (iss-)] in Korean:With Reference to a Present State Reading

Hee-Rahk Chae 1 ,
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1Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
Corresponding Author: Professor Department of Linguistics and Cognitive Science Hankuk University of Foreign Studies Oedae-ro 81, Mohyeon-eup, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do, 17035, Korea E-mail:

ⓒ Copyright 2020 Language Education Institute, Seoul National University. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Received: Oct 11, 2020 ; Revised: Dec 13, 2020 ; Accepted: Dec 29, 2020

Published Online: Dec 31, 2020


Korean [… V-koiss-] is ambiguous between progressive and resultative meanings. We assume that it is ambiguous in three ways: P(rogressive)-reading, R(esultative)-reading and p(seudo)-R-reading constructions. These constructions allow different sets of predicates in the [… V] position. Most previous analyses agreed that telic predicates are responsible for the (traditional) resultative reading. However, this telicity condition does not adequately predict the occurrence of the reading: i) p-R predicates are not necessarily telic, and ii) not all telic predicates can trigger the R construction. The aim of this paper is to provide a set of constraints operating on the R construction under the understanding that p-R predicates should be excluded in advance. First, only those telic predicates that can indicate a present state in their past tense form can trigger the R construction. In addition, we show the need to posit two more constraints: a syntactic/semantic constraint and a pragmatic constraint. We further show that the present approach based on these new observations can properly characterize the R construction while excluding the P and p-R constructions. In dealing with the present state reading, we face the recalcitrant phenomenon of a theta role change in the subject of the predicate concerned.

Keywords: [V-koiss-] in Korean; resultative construction; telicity; past time interpretation; present state reading



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