Monday, October 31, 2005

Did everyone understand my 의자 riddle?

About a month ago I posted a little riddle here. I am wondering if anyone figured it out since there were no comments about it. Anyway, here is what I was hinting at:

In Korean, the word "chair" is 의자(椅子). The Chinese character 椅(의) means 의나무 or 이나무, which is a tree with the Latin name of "Idesia Polycarpa Maxim." Here is another link. The Chinese character 子(자) means "son." Therefore, 의자 literally means "son of Idesia Polycarpa Maxim."

Why 월계수 instead of 계수?

Today, while reading a story about the Olympics ("올림픽 이야기") on the Korean Lab Web site, I came across the word 월계관, which was the laurel crown traditionally given the the winners of the Olympic games. I looked up the word and found that it was made from a "bay tree," which is a broadleaf (활엽수) evergreen (상록수) that grows in the southern part of Europe and along the Mediterranean coast. In Korean, a bay tree is called a 월계수(月桂樹), which is why a "laurel crown" in Korean is called a 월계관(月桂冠). 관(冠) means "hat" or "crown."

Here are the individual Chinese characters for 월계수(月桂樹):
  • 月(월) moon
  • 桂(계) a Katsura tree
  • 樹(수) tree

As you can see from the Chinese characters above, the literally meaning of a 월계수 is "the moon Katsura tree," which makes this word a little strange. Why call it a "moon Katsura tree" instead of just a "Katsura tree" (계수나무)?

There is a Korean story that talks about the moon, rabbits, "the elixir of life," and a Katsura tree. Here is a link to the Korean story, and below is my translation:

Rabbits Pounding Out the Elixir of Life

Longer than a long time ago, God lived in the broad sky and ruled the heavens. The grandfather of Tangun, the founder of our country, is this very same God. In the heaven that God ruled there was a wonderful medicine called 불사약 (elixir of life). If you took this medicine one time, you would feel happy for one month. If you took it two times, you would not get sick. And it you took it three times, you would never grow old and would stay young.

One day the elixir of life was stolen, and God contemplated agonizingly, "How can I prevent further thief and safely produce the elixir of life?" Finally, he decided that it would have to be produced it in a place that no one could go.

"Where would be a good place? Of course, it could be produced on the bright moon, at night when everyone is sleeping. But who should I send to make it? I could send rabbits. Rabbits are not lazy and would work hard to make the elixir."

After deciding on his plan, God sent rabbits to the moon, together with a wonderful mortar to make the elixir of life. The rabbits really did work hard pounding and making the elixir. God caused a huge Katsura tree to grow, so that the hard working rabbits could pound out the elixir of life under the shade of the tree.

Look up at the moon one time. Can you find the rabbits pounding the motar under the Katsura tree? You are not sure?

My question is this: Why is the tree in the Mediterranean called a "moon Katsura tree," but the tree in the Korean story is called just a "Katsura tree"? It seems like the names should be reversed? Maybe because Koreans learned of the tree in the Mediterranean later and could not give it the same name as the tree in the story since they are different trees?

Here is a link to a picture of the rabbits working on the moon under what is supposed to be a Katsura tree.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Has anyone read "나무를 심은 사람"?

Here is a link to an English translation of Jean Giono's story, "The Man Who Planted Trees," and here is a link to a Korean translation. And here is a link to a Korean-narrated video of the story, which is great. The Korean video translation is different from the Korean written translation I linked to, but you can still follow the story, which is quite moving.

By the way, the Ulysses' Gaze (율리시스의 시선) site has got a lot of great stuff on it.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Do the Chinese offer us any good rules to live by?

Yes, of course, many; in fact, here are two Chinese sayings that I take especially to heart:
瓜田不納履(과전불납리)
Don't adjust your shoe in a cucumber patch.

and

李下不整冠(이하부정관)
Don't adjust your horsehair hat under a plum tree.

Both expressions suggest that you avoid doing things that may cause unnecessary suspicion. If you bend down to adjust your shoe in a cucumber patch, the farmer may think you are stealing a cucumber, and if you adjust your horsehair hat under a plum tree, the farmer may think you are stealing a plum. That is why I never adjust my shoe in a cucumber patch, nor even touch my horsehair hat under a plum tree.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Is there anything better than a tree song?

How many Korean tree names do you know? How can anyone remember them all? Maybe, by learning a song?

"나무노래"------Click to hear song

가자가자 갓나무 오자오자 옻나무
가다보니 가닥나무 오자마자 가래나무
한자 두자 잣나무 다섯 동강 오동나무
십리 절반 오리나무 서울 가는 배나무

너하구 나하구 살구나무 아이 업은 자작나무
앵도라진 앵두나무 우물가에 물푸레나무
낮에 봐도 밤나무 불 밝혀라 등나무
목에 걸려 가시나무 기운 없다 피나무

꿩의 사촌 닥나무 텀벙텀벙 물오리나무
그렇다고 치자나무 깔고 앉아 구기자나무
이놈 대끼놈 대나무 거짓말 못해 참나무
빠르구나 화살나무 바람 솔솔 솔나무

(Lyrics by ?; Music by 백창우; Singer: 김현성)

I cannot find any trees named 갓나무 or 가닥나무, but I think 갓나무 may be 감나무. If twenty-two trees is not enough for you, here is another song. There is no music that goes with it, but you should know the tune by now:

[일백목송(一百木頌) Hundred Trees Song
작자:보칠산 김신선(ID:sevensan)

십리절반 오리나무---- 한치라도 백자나무
소년시절 영감나무--- 열아홉에 스무나무
둘이라도 삼나무----- 늙었어도 애나무
사시사철 사철나무---- 셈잘한다 계수나무
대낮에도 밤나무------ 쿨쿨잔다 잣나무
밤낮없이 자두나무---- 깨자마자 졸참나무
앞인데도 등나무------ 뒤인데도 배나무
새거라도 더덕나무---- 어두워도 박달나무
삐까번쩍 광나무------ 시뻘겋다 녹나무
목에걸려 가시나무---- 칼로베어 피나무
입었어도 벚나무------ 죽어서도 살구나무
와들와들 떨기나무---- 부들부들 사시나무
망했구나 작살나무---- 조졌구나 개피나무
어서가자 갓나무야---- 다시오자 옻나무
가다보니 가닥나무---- 오다보니 오동나무
다갔는데 오구나무---- 오자마자 가래나무
쉬자마자 갈참나무---- 다리절뚝 전나무
껍질벗겨 가죽나무---- 새신사서 신갈나무
오줌싸고 쉬나무------ 방귀뀌어 뽕나무
대끼놈아 대나무------ 화가나도 참나무
앵돌아져 앵도나무---- 미안허다 사과나무
두손싹싹 비자나무---- 잘못했다 참회나무
용서해라 아그배나무-- 그렇다고 치자나무
농부들아 가문비나무-- 경읽어라 소귀나무
냄새난다 노린재나무--냄새좋다 향나무
더럽구나 쥐똥나무---- 불싸질러 검은재나무
꿩대신에 닥나무---- 염소사촌 백양나무
홀애비야 각시그령나무 손목쥐어 쥐엄나무
입맞추자 쪽나무------ 약올리자 조롱나무
열매없다 무화과나무-- 경계있다 분단나무
얇다해도 후박나무---- 승패없이 순빅나무
활짝펴도 구기자나무-- 풀었어도 매자나무
바로서도 물구나무---- 내가써도 복사나무
한푼두푼 돈나무도---- 목돈되네 은행나무
먹기싫다 조팝나무---- 먹고보자 이팝나무
말아먹자 국수나무---- 갈라먹자 떡갈나무
시금털털 신나무------ 앗쓰거라 소태나무
긴털잘라 털댕강나무--민둥민둥 중대가리나무
병신이다 팔손이나무--등신이네 한다리나무
튼튼하냐 무환자나무-- 괴롭구나 고로쇠나무
춤이라도 추자나무---- 노래불러 소리나무
둥기둥둥 장구방나무-- 덩기덩덩 장구채나무
여기봐라 주목나무---- 반말찍찍 야자나무
한번쏘자 화살나무---- 빵빵쏜다 딱총나무
애기깰라 자작나무---- 젖먹여라 수유나무
잘도큰다 꿈나무------ 빵긋빵긋 함박나무
정도많다 다정큼나무-- 사귑시다 아가시나무
요리조리 박쥐나무---- 네가해라 미루나무
잉잉엉엉 때죽나무---- 하하호호 빗죽나무
잘그린다 회화나무---- 크긴크다 말좆나무

There are many interesting verses in the above song. Some verses refer to things I have talked about on this blog, such as the verse for 회화나무, which means "pagoda tree," but which the verse suggests means the "picture tree." I talked about 회화(繪畵) here. Some of the verses are a little crude, but funny, such as the verse, 크긴크다 말좆나무 (It's really big, the horse ***** tree.) I was not able to find a picture of a 말좆나무, and maybe that is a good thing.

Some Links:

National Science Museum Dictionary
Forest Korea
Korean Lab: "나무 노래"
Article that Mentions the "나무 노래"

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

What does 언중유골(言中有骨) really mean?

언중유골(言中有骨) is used to refer to language that contains an implied or hidden meaning, which is usually sarcastic or critical. The literal meaning is "There is a bone in the middle of the words." Here are the individual characters:
  • 言(언) speech
  • 中(중) middle
  • 有(유) exist
  • 骨(골) bone

Since first learning this saying, I had always been curious about the expression 有骨(유골). I had always wondered why there was a "bone" in the words, and not something else? Well, today I came across another expression that also has 有骨(유골) in it, and now I think I understand its real meaning.

Today I came across the saying 鷄卵有骨(계란유골), which literally means, "There is a bone in the egg." The expression is used to refer to an event where the luck of a normally unlucky person seems to be changing, but ends up being a continuation of the same bad luck. Here is the story behind the expression:

황희(黃喜) was a Choseon Dynasty prime minister during King Sejong's reign. He lived an honest and simple life, and was very poor. The roof of his house leaked, and he had only one set of court robes.

King Sejong felt sorry for 황희 and decided one day to help him. The king told him that he could go to South Gate market the next day and buy for himself all the goods that came in that day. Unfortunately, there was a big rain storm all day the next day and no merchants came to the market, except one old man carrying a bundle of eggs. 황희 bought the eggs and carried them back home. Later when he tried to cook the eggs, he discovered that they were all rotten.

In Korean, a rotten egg is called 곯은 달걀, and according to this site, because 곯 and 골(骨) have the same sound, Koreans used the Chinese character 골(骨) to represent 곯 in writting. Therefore, 鷄卵有骨(계란유골) actually means, "The eggs are rotten."

If 유골(有骨) means "rotten," then the intended meaning of 언중유골(言中有骨) would be, "Among the words, some are rotten."

Where is the 3-fields "田田田" character?

This morning I came across the Chinese character 疊(첩), which means "to pile up" or "to stack." I wanted to understand the character better by breaking it down into its component parts, but I had trouble finding one of the parts.

I found the bottom part of the character. It is 宜(의), and it means "appropriate" or "suitable." However, I could not find the top part of the character, which is three 田(전) characters stacked in a pyramid. Finally, I looked up 疊(첩) is my Chinese character dictionary and found a comment that said that the three fields (田) on top of 疊(첩) was a mistake, and that the original character was written with "three suns." That means the character on top was originally 晶(정), which means, appropriately enough, "bright."

Sometime in the past 疊 was written incorrectly, but I guess they did not find the mistake until it was too late.

Monday, October 24, 2005

What is the difference between 야심 & 심야?

Please consider this post a 1-man rambling session.

야(夜) means "night," and 심(深) means "deep." That means 야(夜) is a noun, and 심(深) is an adjective. My dictionary says that 야심하다 means "late at night," and 심야 means "the dead of night" or "the middle of the night." Both words seem to mean about the same thing in English, but notice that 하다 is attached to 야심, but not to 심야. Maybe that is because 야심 is a "noun-adjective" combination, but 심야 is an "adjective-noun" combination?

As I mentioned above, 야(夜) is a noun, and 심(深) is an adjective. When the noun comes before the adjective in Chinese writing (한문: 漢文), that usually means that the noun is acting as the subject of the sentence, and the adjective is acting as the predicate. Since 야(夜) is the noun and 심(深) is the adjective, 야심(夜深) means "The night is deep." In the case of 심야(深夜), the adjective comes before the noun, which means that the adjective is just describing the noun, so 심야(深夜) means "deep night." That would imply that 야심 is a sentence, but 심야 is just a modified noun. Maybe Koreans added 하다 to 야심 to show that it is a complete sentence in Korean? Therefore, 야심하다 means "The night is deep." To make 심야 into a complete sentence in Korean, they would have to add 이다. 심야(深夜)이다 would mean "It is a deep night."

I just came across the word 개화(開花)하다, which meaning "blooming" or "bursting into bloom." 개(開) means "to open," and 화(花) means "flower," which means 개화 literally translates as "open flower." My Korean-Korean dictionary says that 개화 means "꽃이 핌," which I would probably translate as "the blooming of a flower." That means that if you add 하다 to 개화, the meaning would be "do the blooming of the flower," which seems possible. However, instead of "꽃이 핌," I would have thought 개화 would mean 핀꽃 or 피어난 꽃. To get the meaning of "꽃이 핌," it seems like the character order should be 화개, instead of 개화.

Anyway, I had to go back and rewrite this whole post because it was just a bunch of virile male cow excrement.

What character sounds are lonely?

Today when I was looking at the Chinese character 墨(묵), which means "ink stick." I noticed that it is a combination of 黑(흑), which means "black", and 土(토), which means "dirt." Therefore, 墨(묵) literally means "black dirt." When I looked up 黑(흑) on the Naver Chinese Character dictionary, I noticed that there was only one Chinese character under the sound "흑." That made me wonder how many other sounds listed only one Chinese character. Ignoring characters that are not among the 3,500 useful characters recommended by the Korean government, here is what I found:
  • 갹: 醵 a drinking party
  • 귤: 橘 tangerine
  • 긴: 緊 tense; taut; rigid
  • 김: 金 a surname
  • 끽: 喫 to drink; to eat
  • 녀: 女 female; daughter; you
  • 논: 論 discuss; debate
  • 득: 得 to have; to possess; to obtain
  • 랭: 冷 cold; chilly
  • 론: 論 discuss; debate
  • 룡: 龍 dragon
  • 륭: 隆 to raise; high
  • 름: 凜 cold; gallant; brave
  • 몌: 袂 sleeve
  • 본: 本 foundation
  • 북: 北 north
  • 솔: 率 to lead
  • 쇠: 衰 become weak
  • 숭: 崇 high
  • 쌍: 雙 pair
  • 씨: 氏 surname; clan name; Mr.
  • 엔: 円 Japanese currency unit
  • 왈: 曰 say; tell
  • 을: 乙 bird; second
  • 잡: 雜 varied; mixed
  • 죄: 罪 crime
  • 즐: 櫛 comb
  • 층: 層 level; story; layer
  • 친: 親: intimate; related; parents
  • 칩: 蟄 hide; gather
  • 쾌: 快 happy; cheerful; agreeable; quick
  • 탱: 撑 resist; push aside
  • 터: 攄 spread out; unfold; scatter
  • 퍅: 愎 eccentric; fussy
  • 폄: 貶 drop; lessen; belittle
  • 헐: 歇 breathe; use up
  • 혐: 嫌 to dislike; to be suspicious of
  • 흑: 黑 black; dark
  • 흥: 興 arise; raise up; start; enjoy

Why are 2 characters needed for 1 word?

Yesterday, I was reading an article and came across the word 회화(繪畵), which means "picture." I knew that 畵(화) meant "picture," but I was not sure what 繪(회) meant, even though I had come across it a couple of weeks ago when I was writing a post on 膾(회), which means "raw meat" or "raw fish." Anyway, I looked up 繪(회) and found that it also means "picture." When I saw that, I could not understand why two "picture" characters were needed to make the word for "picture." Why not just use one of the two? Still curious this evening, I decided to check a book on Chinese writing (한문) that I had, but had not read. I think I may have found the answer, even though I have only read just a few pages.

Besides meaning "picture," 繪(회) also means "to draw" or "to paint." In fact, 畵(화) also has both meanings. In other words, 繪(회) can function as both a noun and a verb. In the case of 繪畵(회화), I think the literal meaing is "그린 그림," which means "a drawn picture." Since that is redundant, we just say 그림(picture). We do not know if it is "ink drawing," 묵화(墨畵), or a "colored picture," 채색화(彩色畵); we just know that it is a "drawing" or "picture." In other words, the word seems fairly generic.

I am only guessing at the above, so if anyone would like to correct me, please feel free. In fact, I would appreciate it.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

What do I consider treasure?

I consider links like this a treasure for those people studying the Korean language because it breaks up the language into both grade level and subject area. Unfortunately, the mean people at Encyber 교육과정분류 require registration and a Korean national ID number (주민등록증 번호). Nevertheless, you can still get vocabulary from it and links to pictures such as these:

What does 화훼(花卉) mean?

화훼(花卉) means "a flowering plant." 화(花) means "flower," and 훼(卉) means "plant."

The word 화훼(花卉) seems a little strange to me because of the Chinese character 卉, whose radical is 십(十), not 초(艸). The radical 艸 means "grass" or "plant" and is usually used with characters that refer to grass, plants, and flowers, usually in its simplified form, which is 艹. Notice that even 화(花), the character for flower, uses 艹. So isn't it strange that a Chinese character that means "plant" does not use the radical for "plant"? However, even though 艹 is not used as the radical for 卉, it looks like it is being used as the bottom part of the character, which means the literal meaning of the character is "ten plants," or "many plants."

Another thing that bothers me about 卉 is its pronunciation, "훼," which is relatively uncommon in Korean. About the only time I can remember seeing 훼 is when it represents the Chinese character 毁, which means "to destroy," "to slander," "to pine away," "to cause injury," and "to kill off." Here are some words that begin with 훼.

  • 훼기(毁棄) 하다 to demolish
  • 훼단(毁短) 하다 to use a person's weak point to criticize him or her
  • 훼방(毁謗) 하다 to interrupt; to slander
  • 훼상(毁傷) 하다 to injure; wound
  • 훼손(毁損) 하다 damage; injure, impair; spoil
  • 훼예(毁譽) praise and [or] criticism
  • 훼절(毁節) 하다 betray

What is the mushroom of the immortals (신선)?

The mushroom eaten by the immortals is, of course, the 영지(靈芝), which literally translates as the "spirit mushroom." 영(靈) means "spirit," and 지(芝) means "mushroom."

The 영지 is part of the Ganoderma family of mushrooms, which in Korean is 불로초과, the "family of eternal herbs." We have all heard of 불로초, right? By the way, if you need a good mushroom dictionary, there is one here.

It is said that the 영지 was eaten by the immortal hermits who lived and meditated up deep in the sacred mountains. As might be expected, this "herb of eternal life" is quite medicinal. Here are some ailments it supposedly helps treat:
  • 허로(폐결핵)--- pulmonary tuberculosis
  • 고혈압--------- high blood pressure
  • 저혈압----------low blood pressure
  • 동맥경화------- hardening of the arteries; arteriosclerosis
  • 신부전증------- renal insufficiency
  • 뇌졸중--------- (cerebral) apoplexy; stroke
  • 건망증--------- amnesia
  • 불면증--------- insomnia
  • 위궤양--------- gastric [stomach] ulcer
  • 급성간염-------acute hepatitis
  • 만성간염-------chronic hepatitis
  • 신경쇠약-------nervous breakdown
  • 관절염--------- arthritis
  • 허약 심장------ weak heart
  • 허약 위장------ weak stomach
  • 소화불량------- indigestion
  • 변비----------- constipation
  • 하리(이질)-----dysentery
  • 복통----------- stomachache
  • 발열----------- fever
  • 알레르기증---- allergies
  • 빈혈----------- anemia
  • 심계항지------ heart palpitation
  • 도한---------- night sweats
  • 신우신염------ pyelitis
  • 폐결핵-------- pulmonary tuberculosis
  • 만성기관지염- chronic bronchitis
  • 천식---------- asthma
  • 폐렴---------- pneumonia
  • 감기---------- a cold
  • 눈병---------- eye disease
  • 비염---------- nasal inflammation
  • 중독---------- poisoning
  • 탈모증------- balding; alopecia
  • 성인병------- geriatric diseases

While researching 영지, I found a nice little article on Folk Art, which was written for middle school students. I think it is worth a read. I cannot link directly to the article, but you can find it on this site: 우리 민화

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Can I write a Korean poem, too?

I do not know much about writing poems, but sometimes things just pop into my head that I feel like writing down. Here is what popped into my head today.
약속----------by Gerry Bevers
-
간다 간다 간다고 결국 안 간다.
한다 한다 한다고 결국 안 한다.
약속 안 지키면 친구 없어진다.
살다 살다 살다가 혼자 죽는다.
-
Promise---------by Gerry Bevers
-
I'll be there, I'll be there, I'll be there, but then I'm not.
I'll do it, I'll do it, I'll do it, but then I don't.
If we neglect our promises, we lose our friends.
We live, and live, and live, then we die alone.

Friday, October 21, 2005

What does 복개공사 mean?

Maybe no one noticed, but I have added a link to the "Tour" section on the "Life and Culture" page of the KBS World Web site. I added the link because some of the articles on the page include audio files.

The articles are interesting, but one problem with "Life and Culture" articles is that they are somewhat difficult to read. Writers of such articles seem to like sentences that are long, complicated, and poetic, which causes a lot of problems for me and probably for other non-native speakers, as well. I can usually follow the written article, but when it comes to audio, I get lost easily. Also, translating such articles can be frustrating. When I can listen to and fully understand such articles, then I will proclaim myself truly fluent in the Korean language. Consider this paragraph from "살아있는 서울사 박물관, 청계천," which seems unnecessarily complicated:
2005년 10월 1일. 청계천의 물길이 열렸다. 지난 47년간 회색 콘크리트 속에 매몰됐던 도심의 하천. 복개 공사 이후, 잊혀지고, 다시는 못 볼 거라 여겨졌던 청계천이 이 날. 푸른 물이 흐르는 열린 물길로 되살아난 것이다.

On October 10, 2005, the Cheonggye-cheon waterway was opened. Buried under gray concrete in the middle of the city for forty-seven years, Cheonggye-cheon was a stream forgotten, and one never expected to be seen again after the work to cover it was finished, but on this day the reopened waterway was revived by the blue water flowing through it.

The audio file linked to the above article is a mislink since it is the file for another article on 목포, which is just as difficult to understand as the above article. Try listening to the file and see if you agree.

복개공사(覆蓋工事) means "work to seal off or cover something." 공사 means "work" and 복개 means "to cover." Actually, both the Chinese characters in 복개 mean "to cover," so the two characters can be switched to 개복 without changing the meaning.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

What do the seven dwarves do each day?

Today I read a story on the Korean Lab Web site entitled, "여름 日記." I liked it, and I liked it for two reasons. One reason was that the story was written by a child, who expressed herself in a very innocent, honest way. The other reason I liked the story was because of the following line from a song mentioned in it:

숲 속 나라 난장이는
일곱 식군데
아침마다 숲 속으로
일하러 가네.

A family of seven dwarves
From a land within the woods
Into their woods they go each morn
On their way to work.

Try singing the Korean lyrics. You will probably be singing them all day.

Which came first, 호리병 or 호리병박?

호리병박 is a "bottle gourd," which is also called a 조롱박. 박 means "gourd, and 호리병 is defined in my Korean-Korean dictionary as 호리병박 모양으로 만든 병, which means "a bottle made in the shape of a bottle gourd." So, my question is this: Which came first, the "bottle gourd" or the "bottle shaped like a bottle gourd"?

The bottle gourd (호리병박) gets its name from 호리병, but 호리병 is defined as "a bottle shaped like the bottle gourd." In other words, a 호리병 is a bottle shaped like a gourd that is shaped like a 호리병. Or we could say that a "bottle gourd" is a gourd shaped like a bottle that is shaped like a bottle gourd.

Ooooooh, I am sorry, but I have to stop here. This chicken-or-egg thing is making me dizzy.

What's the difference between 잎 and 이파리?

Today I came across the word 이파리 in a story on the Korean Lab Web site entitled, "동네 한 바퀴." I became curious about the word and looked it up.

이파리 is defined in my Korean-Korean dictionary as "잎의 낱개," which means "a leaf." Actually, the literal meaning of the definition is "one of (a number of) leaves," which implies that 잎 is plural, even though my Korean-English dictionary defines 잎 as "a leaf" and then gives examples of it being used in the plural.

Does 잎이 예쁘다 mean "the leaf is pretty" or "the leaves are pretty"? It is a little confusing, especially since the writer of "동네 한 바퀴" made 이파리 plural by writing it as 이파리들. Actually, I think the writer used 이파리들 instead of 잎 because it sounded cuter and more appealing to children.

By the way, the Korean word for "grass" is 풀, and the Korean word for "a blade of grass" is 풀잎. Also, the Korean word for "flower" is 꽃, and the Korean word for "flower petal" is 꽃잎. Therefore, why can we not refer to a single leaf as an 잎잎?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

What does 칠거지악(七去之惡) mean?

In Chosun Korea, which was heavily influenced by Confucian thinking, there were seven legitimate reasons for throwing your wife out of the house. Here they are:
  1. Failing to attend to the needs of her inlaws
  2. Being incapable of bearing children
  3. Engaging in lewd behaviour
  4. Showing jealousy
  5. Having a serious disease
  6. Talking too much
  7. Stealing

Koreans refer to these "seven evils" as 칠거지악(七去之惡), "the seven evils for expulsion." The individual meanings of the Chinese characters are as follows:

  • 七(칠) seven
  • 去(거) expulsion
  • 之(지) for, of
  • 惡(악) evil

The order of the Chinese characters in the expression seems a little strange to me. If I did not know its meaning, I might translate it as "the seven expulsions of evil," which sounds like it might be some form of exorcism.

I recognize a fair number of Chinese characters (한자), but I do not really know how to read 한문(漢文), which refers to sentences and writings written in Chinese characters. To understand 한문, one must not only be able to recognize Chinese characters, but must also know the grammar used to combine the characters in a sentence. For example, the 지 in 칠거지악 functions as a grammar element.

One of these days I am going to put aside some time to learn 한문. I think it would be worthwhile.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

What does 할꼬 mean?

Here is a poem from the Korean Lab Web site:
형제 노래--------------<전래 동요>

우물가엔 나무 兄弟
하늘에는 별이 형제
우리 집엔 나와 언니

나무 형젠 열매 맺고
별 형제는 빛을 내니
우리 형제 무얼 할꼬.

The Sibling Song---------Unknown Author

Down by the well are sibling trees
Up in the sky are sibling stars
Inside our house are sis and me

Since fruit's given by sibling trees
And light's given by sibling stars
Wonder what's given by sis and me.

-을꼬 is an archaic verb ending that is similar to -을까.

What does 영감(靈感) mean?

Thomas Edison once said, "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration," which translates in Korean as, "천재는 1퍼센트의 영감과 99퍼센트의 땀으로 만들어진다." When I saw that saying in this story about Thomas Edison on the Korean Lab Web site, I became curious about what Chinese characters are used for 영감 and looked up the word in my dictionary.

The Chinese characters for 영감 are 靈 and 感. 영(靈) means "spirit" or "soul," and 감(感) means "feeling." The literal meaning of the two characters is "feeling of a spirit." Apparently, the Chinese feel that one receives inspiration when one is "touched by a spirit."

Monday, October 17, 2005

Who is 을지문덕(乙支文德)?

Today on the Korean Lab Web site I read about 乙支文德(을지문덕) 장군, a Koguryo general who supposedly destroyed 1.13 million Chinese troops in battle in 612 A.D. (Sometimes the figure is quoted as 2 million troops.) In the story a reference was made to the 요하江 (Liao He), a river in present-day China where the battle started; then to 압록강, the river on the present-day border between China and Korea where Koguryo troops retreated to; and finally to 淸川江(청천강), a river farther south of 압록강, just north of the city of 안주, where Koguryo troops made their last stand and where the Chinese army was defeated. I was curious to know where 청천강 was, so I searched the Web looking for a good map of Korea's rivers.

I found 청천강, but I did not find a good map of Korea's rivers. I did find a pretty good Map of North Korea, though. I also found a interesting Web site for elementary school students that talks about some of important people in Korean history, including 乙支文德(을지문덕). The name of the site is 역사인물: 초등 사회 학습.

One of the things that trips me up when listening to or reading Korean are references to Korean people and places. When I hear the names of people and places I do not know, I get confused because many times there are no explanations for the names. The commentator or writer just assumes that any Korean with at least an elementary school education knows the person or place and the story behind it. When Koreans hear the name, 을지문덕, they automatically switch their brain to the "history mode" and already have a general idea of the story that will follow. Foreign learners of Korean, on the other hand, may hear the word 을지문덕 and think it is some kind of Korean rice cake. By the time the foreigner figures out that the commentator is talking about history, not food, the program is half over.

I think it is important that non-Koreans learning the Korean language also learn about the important people in Korean history, on a level at least as good as Korean elementary school students. I think it will greatly improve their listening comprehension. Here are some lists to start with:

Friday, October 14, 2005

Is your mind (마음) getting enough to eat?

Today I read "책 이야기" in one of the third grade, elementary school textbooks on the Korean Lab Web site. The story itself was nothing special, but some of the expressions in the story reminded me that Koreans and non-Koreans say things differently. I am not talking about the differences in languages, but the differences in the way we express ourselves. For example, here are some expressions from the story that caught my eye:
  • 동화책이나 위인전기는 우리들을 즐겁게 해주고 마음을 살찌게 해줍니다.
  • 또는 책 속의 主人公과 對話를 나누며 마음껏 상상의 날개를 펴 보기도 합니다.
  • 책을 가까이 하고 所重히 하는 습관을 길러야 하겠습니다.

Most of the expressions we learn in elementary school probably stay with us for the rest of our lives. I have a feeling that the three Korean expressions in red type above also stay with Koreans for the rest of their lives, and are probably so woven into their minds and language that they might find it difficult to express the same thoughts in a different way.

Maybe the key to learning to speak Korean as naturally as Koreans do is to follow the same path they use to develop their speaking patterns. Instead of writing special textbooks for non-native Korean language learners, maybe all that is needed is to annotate Korea's elementary school textbooks with grammar and vocabulary notes for non-native Korean speakers. Then when Koreans and non-Koreans speak with each other in Korean, they would literally be on the same page.

Can you solve these math problems?

Math

  1. 학생 11명이 군사놀이를 합니다. 4명이 기관단총을 가지고 나머지는 자동보총을 가졌습니다. 자동보총을 가진 학생은 몇명입니까?

    Eleven students are playing soldier. Four students have submachine guns, and the rest have automatic rifles. How many students have automatic rifles?
    -
  2. 김정일화 화분이 12개 있었습니다. 새로 4개를 더 거져 왔습니다. 모두 몇개 이겠습니까?

    There are 12 pots of Kim Jong-il flowers. Four more new ones are brought over. How many will there be?

First Year Korean

  • 꼬마땅크 나간다
    우리땅크 나간다
    미국놈 쳐부시며
    꼬마땅크 나간다

    The baby tank goes out
    Our tank goes out
    Defeating those American (jerks)
    The baby tank goes out

The Textbook Museum is a fairly interesting site.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

What do Koreans associate with spring?

I am now reading the elementary school, third grade textbooks on the Korean Lab site. I still enjoy the stories and poems, but I miss the audio that was in the first and second grade books. I really liked the voice of the woman who was reading them.

In one of the third grade textbooks, there is a cute little story called 즐거운 봄 동산, which talks about the coming of spring and some of the things associated with it. While reading the story, I realized that these kinds of children stories play a big part in shaping the thoughts of adult Koreans. When Korean adults hear the word, 봄 (spring), all kinds of images will probably flash before their eyes. They will probably see skylarks (종달새), heat haze (아지랑이), weeping willows (수양버들), butterflies (나비), azaleas (진달래), forsythias (개나리), and mountain streams (개울).

When Koreans hear 봄, they probably will not only see the above things; they will also see their movements, hear their sounds, and smell them. The skylark will be singing in a "thin voice" (가느다란 목소리), the weeping willow will be dancing "wavily" (너울너울), the heat haze will be dancing "waveringly" (하늘하늘)," the butterfly will be "fluttering" (나풀나풀) around, the pink azalea will be giving off the "fragrance of spring" (봄 냄새), the stream running down from the valley will be singing a "gurgling" (졸졸) song. They probably will also see a sunny "hill" (동산) where all these signs of spring come together. Koreans will probably see, hear, and smell all these things because of stories they remember from elementary school, because of stories like "즐거운 봄 동산."

Koreans have an advantage over you and I (non-Koreans) when they speak in Korean about spring. Of course, they have the advantage of Korean being their mother tongue, but they also have the advantage of having the images and descriptions of a Korean spring in their heads, images and descriptions that were planted there years and years ago in elementary school.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

What is a 상현달?

On my way home from school tonight, I looked up and noticed a half moon (반달). The line of the moon was slanting to the right, from bottom to top. Knowing very little about the lunar cycle, I starting wondering if that meant the moon was waxing (달이 차다) toward a full moon (보름달/망월) ○ or waning (달이 이울다) toward a new moon (신월/삭월) ◙. I decided to satisfy my curiosity by checking a lunar calendar when I got home . Well, I am home now, and here is what I have found out.

Today is October 11 by the solar calendar (양력), but it is only September 9 by the lunar calendar. Since there are twenty-nine and a half days in a lunar month, that means it takes about 15 days for a new moon to wax to a full moon, and another 15 days for it to wane from a full moon to another new moon. Since today was the ninth day of this lunar month, that means the moon is waxing toward a full moon. In fact, since today is the ninth day of the lunar month, that means the moon is already more than half way toward a full moon.

Since there is both a waxing phase and a waning phase, that means there are actually two half moons (반달) in a lunar month. The half moon that occurs during the waxing phase is called the "first quarter moon," and the half moon that occurs in the waning phase is called the "last quarter moon." In Korean, the first quarter moon is called 상현달, and the last quarter moon is called 하현달.

Here are the four moon phases in Korean and English
신월(삭월): new moon
상현달: first quarter moon
보름달(망월): full moon
하현달: last quarter moon
All right, but what are 초승달 and 그믐달?

초승달 and 그믐달 are crescent moons. 초승달 is the crescent moon that forms at the beginning of a lunar month, and 그믐달 is the crescent moon that forms at the end of a lunar month. For example, on Day 2 of a lunar month one would see a 초승달, and on Day 28 of a lunar month, one would see a 그믐달. That means that the end of one crescent moon and the beginning of another is only a day or two apart.

Crescent moons bow inward. That means that a moon will remain a 초승달 until it waxes to its first half moon, which I mentioned was 상현달 in Korean, and "first quarter moon" in English. In English, we refer to a 초승달 as a "waxing crescent moon." Likewise, a 그믐달 will begin when the moon wanes past the second half moon mark, which I mentioned was 하현달 in Korean, and "last quarter moon" in English. After it passes that halfway mark, it appears to bow inward again and becomes a "waning crescent." It will remain a 그믐달 until it disappears into a new moon(신월/삭월), which is when the moon is completely dark.

So, if crescent moons bow inward, what do we call moons that bulge outward? In English, we call them "gibbous" moons. The moon between a first quarter moon and a full moon is called a "waxing gibbous moon," and the moon between a full moon and a last quarter moon is called a "waning gibbous moon." So what do Koreans call a waxing gibbous moon and a waning gibbous moon? Well, they call them 상현달 and 하현달, respectively.

Notice that 상현달 and 하현달 each have two meanings. 상현달 means "first quarter moon" and "waxing gibbous moon. 하현달 means "last quarter moon" and "waning gibbous moon." In other words, a 상현달 begins with and includes the first half moon and continues to the full moon, and 하현달 begins with the full moon and lasts until and includes the second half moon. Confusing? Well, maybe this list will help:
new moon: 신월(삭월)
waxing crescent: 초승달
first quarter moon: 상현달
waxing gibbous: 상현달
full moon: 보름달(망월)
waning gibbous: 하현달
last quarter moon: 하현달
waning crescent moon: 그믐달
(next) new moon: 신월(삭월)

Here is an interesting link that shows the phases of the moon and their Korean names:

Phases of the Moon

Monday, October 10, 2005

Who is beyond the mountain?

Here is another poem from the elementary school, second grade textbook on the "Korean Lab" Web site:

山너머엔 ----- 尹 伊 鉉

山너머넨 누가 있길래
붉은 해님
살몃 잡아당기나?

산너머엔 누가 있길래
재잘재잘 참새 떼들
불러다 잠 재우나?

산너머엔 누가 있길래
해 같은 보름달
쏙 밀어 올리나?

Beyond the Mountain ----- Yun I-hyeon

Who is beyond the mountain
tugging stealthily on the crimson sun?

Who is beyond the mountain
calling to bed the chattering flocks of sparrows?

Who is beyond the mountain
pushing up suddenly a moon as full as the sun?

Why do clouds want so much?

Here is a poem from the elementary school, third grade textbook on the "Korean Lab" Web site.
풀씨를 위해 --- 李昌健

봄하늘 구름은
빨리 봄비가 되고 싶다.

땅 속 촉촉히
젖어 들고 싶다.
바위틈 촉촉히
스며들고 싶다.

흙 속에 묻혀서
바위틈에 끼여서
지금 막 눈을 뜰
이름 모르는
풀씨를 위해.

For the Grass Seed ----- by Lee Chang-geon

The cloud in the spring sky
is anxious to become spring rain.

It wants to go into the ground
and make it wet.
It wants to seep into rock cracks
and make them damp.

Buried in the dirt
Squeezed into the cracks of rocks
For the unknown grass seed
Just beginning to sprout.

Why do I like simple poems?

Here is another poem from the elementary school, second grade textbook on the "Korean Lab" Web site.
눈 온 달밤 -------어효선

펑펑 쏟아지던
눈이 그치고

눈위에 보름달이
솟았습니다.

하얀 눈 위에
하얀 달빛.

낮보다도 더 환한
눈 온 달밤.

A Snowy Night ------ by Eoh Hyo-seon

A heavy snow has fallen,
A full moon soars above it.
White moonlight on white snow.
Even brighter than the day
This snowy, moonlit night.

What does 달다 mean?

I am still reading and enjoying the stories in the second grade textbook on the Korean Lab Web site. Even though I have studied Korean for a long time, I am learning many little things about the language from the site. In fact, I am beginning to think that one reason non-Korean adults have such a hard time learning Korean is that they are trying to get into the big words too quickly, skipping over the little words that Korean children start with. Maybe, we could learn Korean much faster if we pretended to be Korean children, imitating their play and their language. Maybe the best Korean language teacher is a Korean child and the best classroom a room full of toys and picture books?

Today, the word 달다 came up in a story entitled, "김장," winter kimchi-making. Here is where it was used:
아빠, 엄마, 이모, 할머니는 그 매운 배추 속박이를 잡수시며, "어! 달다!" 하고 말씀하셨습니다.

Tasting the hot kimchi stuffing for the cabbage, my father, mother, aunt, and grandmother said, "어! 달다!"

What does 달다 mean here? At first, I thought it meant "sweet," which is one meaning of 달다, but why would someone describe spicy kimchi stuffing as "sweet"? I think even the child in the story was confused by the word 달다. Anyway, I looked up the word and found that 달다 can also mean, "tasty," which is what I think they were saying in the story.

By the way, "김장" is one of the stories written by a child.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

What does 철요 mean?

철요 means the same as 요철, which means "unevenness" or "irregularities." Why do I mention this? Because I like the Chinese characters for 철요:

-----凸凹

Saturday, October 08, 2005

What is like a 박꽃 (gourd flower)?

Today on the Korean Lab site I read some of the stories in the textbook for children in the second grade of elementary school. Specifically, I read stories supposedly written by children, themselves. While reading the stories, I realized I was looking into the mind of a child and, like a gourd flower, suddenly started to smile.

In one story entitled, "내 친구 기형이," I was reminded of the anxiety I used to feel as a child whenever I would go across the street to ask my best friend, Mark Carter, to come out and play. I was always worried that his father would answer the door. He father was not a mean man, but he had a gruff voice and was much stricter than my father. For example, Mark had to always answer his father with "Yes sir" or "No sir." It is funny how we forget most of our childhood anxieties.

Also, here are the thoughts of 김서영, just a little girl who loves her mother:
우리 엄마

곤히 잠드신 엄마 얼굴에 주름살 참 많기도 해라.

공부 잘 할께요. 말씀도 잘 듣고요. 나도 모르게 엄마 손을 꼭 잡았다.

엄마는 박꽃처럼 환하게 웃으시며 나를 꼭 안으셨다.

My Mom

On the face of my tired, sleeping mom, there really are many wrinkles. I promise to study hard, and I will obey you. Before I knew it, I was grasping her hand. Mom smiled at me, as bright as a gourd flower, and hugged me tightly.

Friday, October 07, 2005

How does the vine find the fence?

I am really enjoying the children's poems on the Korean Lab Web site. They are simple and innocent. Here is an example:
호박 덩굴 by 손길봉

호박 덩굴 끝에는
눈이 있지요.
울타리를 보고서
찾아가지요.

호박 덩굴 끝에는
손이 있지요.
울타리를 붙잡고
올라가지요.

Pumpkin Vine by Son Gil-bong

At the end of a pumpkin vine
there is an eye.
It sees the fence
and moves toward it.

At the end of a pumpkin vine
there is a hand.
It grabs the fence
and climbs up it.

Is there a quick, easy way to learn Korean?

In the Korea Times article, "School Offers Quick, Easy Way to Learn Korean," the reporter introduces a new school for non-native Korean language students that uses the total-immersion concept by offering on-campus dormitories and seven hours of instruction a day. The school is located in the facilities of the Academy of Korean Studies in Bundang, just south of Seoul.

The program seems to focus on beginning learners since there are only three 4-week course levels offered. The school claims to be able to teach in only four weeks what is taught in other 10-week programs (probably referring to the Yonsei Korean Language Institute regular program) .

The price seems good since it costs only 1 million won for one month's lodging and 180 hours of instruction. Food is not included.

The program sounds interesting, and if I were just beginning my study of the Korean language, I would probably go for it, especially if I were coming to Korea for the first time and had no place to stay. One thing that may not be attractive to some is that the Academy of Korean Studies is pretty much out in the boonies, at least it was the boonies when I was working there part-time in 1982. As for me, I consider that a good thing since it would help me focus on my studies. After you finish the three levels at the school, then you should have enough Korean to come out and face the real Korea. However, do not be fooled by the title of the article. There is no such thing as a "quick, easy way to learn Korean."

Here is a link to the Web site mentioned in the article:

The Korean Language-Culture School (한국어문화교육원)

Who is 이상?

이상 is one of Korea's most famous authors. I only remember reading two things written by him, 날개 and 황소와 도깨비. I did not care much for "날개," but I liked "황소와 도깨비." Maybe the reason I liked "황소와 도깨비" was that it is a children's story, which is fun and fairly easy to understand. Since 이상 is such a famous author, I may try to read more of his stuff later, when I find the time. As for 금오신화, by 김시습, I may have to wait a few more years before I try to tackle that one.

Update: The links do not seem to be working now. If the links do not work, go to the site's "Title Index" page and choose from the links there. Just look for the titles listed below. Maybe the site is designed to force people to go through its own menu to reach the pages?

Works by 이상

12월 12일, Epigram, 공포의 기록, 권태, 김유정, 날개, 단발, 동해, 병상 이후, 봉별기, 실락원, 실화, 약수, 종생기, 지도의 암실, 지주회시, 지팽이 역사, 환시기, 황소와 도깨비, 휴업과 사정

Work by 심훈

그날이 오면

Work by 나혜석

경희, 규원, 회생한 손녀에게

Work by 김시습

금오신화

What is "Korean Lab"?

"Korean Lab" is a great, great, great Web site that provides Korean Language (국어) textbook content for Korean students in the first grade of elementary school through high school. Of course, non-native Korean language learners can use the site, as well.

I have added Korean Lab to my "Links" section, so just click on the link to go to the site and then choose either 초등학교 (Elementary School), 중학교 (Middle School), or 고등학교 (High School) from the menu. Next, choose the textbook for the Year and Semester you want to begin with. After that, choose the story you want to read. The first and second grade textbooks have audio that reads the stories for you. When you finish a page, click 다음페이지 to move to the "next page" of the story. It is a great resource.

I think I will start with grade one in elementary school and work my way up.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

No 몸나다 in my Kor-Kor dictionary?

Today, I came across the expression "뭄둘 바 모르고," which I had never seen before. I suspected it might be a misspelling of "몸둘 바 모르고," so I looked it up in my computer-based dictionary. As I suspected, there was no 뭄두다. Then I looked up 몸두다 and found it in my Korean-English dictionary, but then I noticed that there was no Korean-Korean definition for the word. By the way, 몸둘 바를 모르다 means "do not know what to do with oneself," which seems like a useful expression.

Curious about why 몸두다 would be in my Korean-English dictionary but not my Korean-Korean dictionary, I checked the Yahoo! Online Dictionary to see if was there. It was not in Yahoo!'s Korean-Korean dictionary, either, but was in its Korean-English dictionary. Then I checked to see if 몸나다, which means "gain weight," would show up in my Korean-Korean dictionary. It was not there, either, though it was in my Korean-English dictionary. After that, I decided to see how how many other pure-Korean verbs use 몸, which means "body," to make a new verb. Here is what I found:
몸가지다: 1) become pregnant; 2) have the menses
몸나다: gain weight
몸달다: fidget; fret; be eager or anxious
몸담다: be employed in; work for
몸두다: stay in; find shelter with; stay with
몸바치다: sacrifice one's life
몸받다: work in place of an elder or superior
몸져눕다: take to one's bed; be ill in bed
몸풀다: 1) give birth; 2) relieve one's fatigue
몸하다: have the menses
The words in red have a Korean-Korean definition, but all the others do not. I am not curious enough to search for the conventions used in my dictionary, but I would guess that the words not defined in my Korean-Korean dictionary are still not completely accepted as standardized forms. I think they were included in the Korean-English dictionary for the benefit of foreign learners. The words, of course, are just a combination of a verb and the noun, 몸, which either acts as the subject or object of the verb, depending on the verb. Koreans have probably come to drop the subject or object marker so frequently that the verb and the noun are now pretty much seen as one word. I think some Korean-Korean dictionaries already recognize 몸두다, 몸나다, and the others as new words, and it is probably just a matter of time when all Korean dictionaries will.

Here are the original structures of these one-word 몸-verbs.
몸을 가지다: 1) become pregnant; 2) have the menses
몸이 나다: gain weight
몸이 달다: fidget; fret; be eager or anxious
몸을 담다: be employed in; work for
몸을 두다: stay in; find shelter with; stay with
몸을 바치다: sacrifice one's life
몸을 받다: work in place of an elder or superior
몸이 져눕다: take to one's bed; be ill in bed
몸을 풀다: 1) give birth; 2) relieve one's fatigue
몸을 하다: have the menses

Uterine Cancer Risk Greater for Women than Men?

Tonight (Oct. 5), KBS Newsline did a report on the increasing number of women smokers in Korea. The report said that female smokers faced a higher risk for certain cancers than male smokers. Specifically, the report stated that female smokers faced 2 times the risk for lung cancer and 3 times the risk for breast cancer, uterine cancer, and heart disease.

I was surprised by those numbers because I had expected the risk for breast and uterine cancer to be more than 3 times higher for women than men.

Here is a transcript of the relevant section of the news report:
담배 독성 물질은 남성보다 상대적으로 지방이 많은 여성의 체내에 훨씬도 잘 흡수합니다. 때문에 흡연 여성들의 폐암 발병률은 남성에 비해 2배 이상 높고 유방암, 심장병, 자궁경부암 등에 걸릴 위험도 3배 이상 높습니다.

By the way, there does seem to be more Korean women than men smoking in the stairwells of the college where I teach. This pisses me off because the building is supposed to be a no smoking building. However, the administration does not seem to take it very seriously. Here is a notice I found posted in one of the stairwells:
담배를 피우지 마세요. 혹시 피우면 바닥에 꽁초를 버리지 말고 침을 뱉지 마세요.

Don't smoke, but if you smoke, don't throw your butts on the floor or spit.

Here is the link to the KBS Newsline report. Choose the October 5 program.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


Gerry Bevers Posted by Picasa

Anyone know the son of Idesia Polycarpa Maxim?

Anyone know the son of Idesia Polycarpa Maxim? He has a straight back, sturdy legs, and is willing to support almost anyone. People affectionately refer to him as the "son of 의(椅)." If anyone sees him, do not hesitate to approach, take a seat, and relax.

Do we really need 長(장) as a radical?

長(장) is a Chinese character that means "long." It is also one of the 214 radicals in a Chinese dictionary (옥편). Radicals are the character headings that are used to sort the thousands of characters in a Chinese dictionary. Characters under a radical heading use that radical character as part of its composite structure, similar to how words that begin with an "a" would be found under the letter "A" in an English dictionary. A radical character also can be used as part of another character without being the radical for that character, similar to how "a" can be used in words that are not listed under the letter "A" in an English dictionary (e.g. "cat"). The interesting thing about the radical 長(장) is that there are no Chinese characters listed under it, at least not in my Chinese dictionary.

Why are there no characters under the radical 長(장)? Why make it a radical if it does not organize anything, except itself? Why not just put it under another radical, such as 衣(의)? Can't it be made to fit? Were there once characters under 長(장) that just disappeared over time? Also, 長(장) seems like a very nice character, so why does it appear in few other characters? I can find only four functional characters that make use of 長(장), and none of them use it as their radical. Here they are:

帳(장) curtain; screen
張(장) stretch; display; sheet
脹(창) to have a full stomach; to be swollen
漲(창) to fill up