Investigation and Discovery

A simple distinction between two similar words which I’ve gotten quite mixed up and haven’t had the chance to set it straight are these two similar looking words:

(To investigate) 알아보다 and 알아내다 (To discover).

One of the most common words encountered in Korean is the word ‘to know‘ 알다 (知る in Japanese), attaching another word at the tail end modifies words that is still related with knowing. This is similar in Japanese language as well.

I’m not too sure about the workings of these two words in detail, but here’s what I found out that helps me understand the difference between the two:

보다 = to see

내다 = (out of a range of meanings, one of them was) result in, cause 

(^Click to check out other meanings of this word)

In Japanese, when attaching the verb ‘みる’ (to see) at the end of another verb x to form a compound creates the term for ‘trying to do x’ やってみる (try and see).

The concept is also similar in Chinese language where one does something and sees what comes out of the attempted activity, whether they hate it or like it, whether it turns out amazing or horrible. 试试看 (try and see)

Not unfamiliar in Korean, the concept applies:

  • to know + see = to try to find out something (알아보다)
  • to know + result & cause = discovery that comes out as a result of the action of searching (알아내다)

My analysis could be wrong, but this helps me understand the difference. Only time will tell. A future me could knock the current me on my forehead and be like ‘idiot, it wasn’t like this’. But right now, I’ve learnt something new.


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