By Gustaf John Ramstedt, Juha Janhunen
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Additional info for A Korean Grammar
Consider the following examples: (1) Chris listened to the big waves. (2) Chris concentrated on the big waves. (3) Chris swam to the big waves. (4) Chris drifted on the big waves. (5) Chris seemed on the right wavelength. The prepositional phrase in (1), just like the one in (2), is, although omissible, not adverbial, and thus not a place indicator: its preposition is not freely chosen for its semantic value but selected by the verb which requires it as a prepositional object, in these cases an omissible one.
It also occurs with more idiomatic meanings like ‘switched to an operating position’ (of equipment) or ‘still due to take place’ (of arranged events), when it is impossible to reconstruct an appropriate complementing noun phrase. Yet in both sets of cases there is a regular contrast between on and off. This is not the case for the preposition behind, which only occurs without a prepositional phrase when it has a figurative meaning like ‘with work outstanding’ or (especially in the collocation well behind) ‘having little prospect of catching up’.
The following sentences need to be interpreted in a similar way: (13) When I came to the cinema, I saw Chris waiting opposite. ] Below there was a huge drop. (15) Chris will see you after. (16) I’d never seen it before. For instance: (13) means ‘… opposite the cinema I have just referred to’; (15) means ‘… after the point in time we have just referred to’. This dropping of a contextually recoverable noun phrase is the typical pattern for a whole range of hyper-prepositions, including at least the following: above, below, (in) between, in, inside, out (of), outside, near, behind, opposite, over² ‘across’, across, through, round¹ ‘following a circular path’.
A Korean Grammar by Gustaf John Ramstedt, Juha Janhunen