"저는 제 자신을 무서워해요."
Translation:I am afraid of myself.
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In this case it doesn't make a difference in terms of meaning due to the use of 자신, but with 무서워하다, the thing marked with -을/를 is the thing the cause of the fear, not the experiencer. So it means "to fear, to be afraid of", not "to scare, to make afraid". For example: 제 동생은 개를 무서워해요. "My little brother is afraid of dogs." (Not the other way around.)
무섭다 - to be scary 무서워하다 - to fear
무섭다 is used to say that you find something scary. Note that this is an adjective and doesn't require an object.
무서워하다 is used to say that the subject finds another object scary. This is a verb and does require an object.
When you are talking for someone else you have to use 무서워하다. But when you are talking for yourself you can use either. This should make sense, because if you find something scary, then logically you are scared of that thing as well. So the following two sentences are equivalent:
- 저는 제 자신이 무서워요 (lit. "As for me, I find myself to be scary.")
- 저는 제 자신을 무서워해요 (lit. "As for me, I am scared of myself.")
Take particular note of the markers tagging "자신". These must be the markers in order for the two sentences to be grammatically correct. In the first sentence, "자신" is being described by the adjective "무서워요" while in the second sentence, "자신" is the object of the verb "무서워해요".
This is mostly a matter of grammar. Both are valid sentences to convey the same thing and in conversation these markers and particles are typically omitted.
Here are two other comments that may help:
I think it has to do with the cultural concept of "self" In our current global environment the individual and his own self is an established concept. It has been an established concept for a long time also in countries of the west, but it is relatively new in Korea. The understanding of the concept of "self" might therefore differ from the west. The use of the term 자신, therefore is the translation of "self" but also is used for "confidence". The concept of self in Korea to me seems to be about your level of assertiveness, hence confidence, which is what creates the "self".
I'm afraid it's less profound than that: they are just homonyms, borrowed from different Chinese characters but rendered with the same Korean pronunciation.
(self-)confidence: 자신 (自信)
(It's the same problem in Japanese as well: both are pronounced じしん jishin, although the pitch accent seems to be different).
I like your theory though!
"I fear myself" should theoretically be accepted, but yes, there is a distinction between that and "I scare myself". Obviously it makes little difference when the subject and the object are the same person, but consider the difference between, for example, "I scare the tiger" and "I fear the tiger"...
Yeah, they're not much different in practice, but "I fear myself" describes what you're doing and "I am afraid of myself" describes how you are. If anything though, IMHO, "I am scared of myself" (even "I scare myself") is closer to the Korean here, and probably "I fear myself" too, so I rather agree with all of you over Duo . . .