Saturday, July 11, 2020

Why does 소하다 mean "to eat vegetarian"?

ANSWER: Because the Chinese character 素 (소), which means "white," can also mean "live grass" (생초 生草)
My Korean-English dictionary defines 소하다 (素--) as follows:
abstain from fish and meat; stick to a vegetarian diet
If not for the Chinese character 素 (소), which means "white," one might misinterpret 소하다 as meaning "I'm doing cow," since 소 is also the pure Korean word for "cow" and since cows eat grass. But since the 소 (素) here means "white," 소하다 seems to literally mean "I'm doing white," which made me ask myself, "What the heck?"
So, I had to look up 素 (소) in my Chinese character dictionary to try to figure out what was going on, and I found that 素 (소) can also mean 생초 (生草), which literally means "live grass."
Even though I still do not understand how "white" (素) came to mean "live grass" (生草), I at least now know that 소하다 literally means "to eat live grass."
By the way, "side dishes" (반찬 飯饌) that do not include meat or fish are called 소찬 (素饌), which literally means "live grass (소 素) meal or side dish (찬 饌)."
Dong-a's Prime Korean-English Dictionary (1998)

활용대옥편 (Chinese Characters Dictionary), HW어문연구회 편 (2007)

Dong-a's Prime Korean-English Dictionary (1998)


Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Among Korean food, which one is the antique?

ANSWER: bibimpap (비빔밥)
The Sino-Korean word for "antique" is 골동 (骨董) or 골동품 (骨董品), and the Sino-Korean word for 비빔밥 is 골동반 (骨董飯), which can translate as "antique (骨董) cooked rice (飯)" or "antique food."
A Korean language explanation for the word can be found HERE.

Friday, July 03, 2020

What does a captured bean think?

ANSWER: I can only guess.

Do Koreans also associate the color green with "envy"? Do they associate any color with "envy"?
Anyway, today, for some reason, I suddenly started thinking about beans and wrote the following silly poem in Korean:

"잡힌 콩알"
"The Captured Bean," by Gerry Bevers

콩알이 젓가락에 잡혔다.
A bean was caught up by chopsticks.
잡힌데에 너무 창피해서
It was so embarrassed at being caught
얼굴이 적두인듯 빨갛다.
its face was as red as a red bean.
안 잡힌 친구들을 보고서
Seeing its friends that were not caught,
마음이 녹두인듯 부럽다.
its heart was as envious as a green bean.
앞에 다가오는 입을 보고
Seeing the approaching mouth in front of it,
미래가 흑두인듯 가맣다.
its future seemed as a black as a black bean.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

What does 불현듯이 mean?

ANSWER: suddenly or unexpectedly

Today in my reading I came across the phrase 불현듯이, which can translate as "suddenly," "all of a sudden," "abruptly," or "unexpectedly," and suddenly (불현듯이) became interested in its origin.
According to Naver's dictionary HERE, the 불 in 불현듯이 means "light," and the 현 comes from the verb 혀다, which is an old spelling of 켜다 ("to light" or "to turn on"), so since 듯이 means "like," the phrase 불현듯이 literally translates as "like a light turning on," and when a light is turned on, a room "suddenly" lights up.
In English we have the phrase "a light bulb goes off (in someone's head)," which means someone has "sudden" understanding of something or has a "sudden" great idea.

Friday, June 26, 2020

What is a 길앞잡이?

ANSWER: a tiger beetle

Koreans have some interesting names for bugs, The Korean name for a "tiger beetle," for example, is 길앞잡이, which literally means "path (길) guide (앞잡이)." The name supposedly comes from the way it acts when approached. If you get close to it, it will either fly or run away a short distance and stop, and if you continue to follow it, it will do the same thing again and again, as if it is guiding you along your way.
So, 길 means "path" or "road," and 앞 means "forward," but what does 잡이 mean?
I think 잡이 can be translated as "expert."
If you are a "path guide," but not a bug, you are a 길잡이, without the 앞, and 길잡이 can translate as "path (길) expert (잡이)," which literally translates as "a person (이) who grabs (잡다) the path (길)."
Koreans call right-handed people 오른손잡이, which literally translates as "people (이) who grab (잡다) with their right hands (오른손)," and they call left-handed people 왼손잡이, which literally translates as "people (이) who grab (잡다) with their left hands (왼손), And Koreans call people who are ambidextrous and can grab with both hands 양수(兩手)잡이 or 양손잡이, which literally translates as "people (이) who grab (잡다) with 'both hands (양수)."
So, a right-handed person is a right-hand expert, a left-handed person a left-hand expert, and an ambidextrous person a two-handed expert. In English, "dexterous" means "showing or having skill."
By the way, 칼잡이 (a knife expert) is an unflattering name for "a butcher."

Friday, June 05, 2020

What does 초친놈 mean?

ANSWER: a worthless playboy

My Korean-English dictionary has 12 different entries for the verb 치다, starting with the one that means "to strike" or "to hit," probably the most common meaning. But if the sub-entries are included, the total comes to 19 entries.
I mention this because today I came across the phrase 초친놈 and became curious about the 초친 part of it. I learned that the 초 in 초친 is the same 초 in the Sino-Korean word 식초 (食醋), which means "vinegar." I then guessed from that that the 친 in 초친 comes from 치다 entry No. 6, which means "to (put) pour into," "to mix with," or "to season with."
So, that means the phrase 초친놈 literally translates as "a guy seasoned with vinegar." But what does that mean? Well, my Korean-English dictionary defines the phrase as "a worthless playboy." But how does "a guy seasoned with vinegar" become "a worthless playboy"?
Well, according to my Korean-Korean dictionary, things seasoned with vinegar (such as vegetables) lose their freshness, which implies that people seasoned with vinegar have lost the freshness and innocence they need to be good human beings.

From Dong-A's Prime Korean-English Dictionary (1998)

From Dong-A's Prime Korean-English Dictionary (1998)

From Dong-A's Prime Korean-English Dictionary (1998)

From 동아 새국국어사전 (1992)


Sunday, May 24, 2020

What does 백발이 성성한 노인 mean?

ANSWER: a gray-haired old man

백발 (白髮) means "white (白) hair (髮)," and 노인 (老人)  means "old (老) man (人)," but what does 성성한 mean?

성성(星星)하다 is a Sino-Korean word that means "grizzled" or "gray-streaked," so 백발이 성성한 노인 would be more accurately translated as "an old man with gray-streaked hair," though many Koreans mistakenly think it means the old man's hair is completely gray.

성성(星星)하다 literally means "star (星) star (星)," which means it could be translated as "starry." It is the same 성 that is used in the Korean names for the planets. For example, the Korean name for  Mercury is 수성 (水星), which literally means "water (水) star (星)"; and the Korean name for Mars is 화성 (火星), which literally means "fire (火) star (星)."

So, that means that 백발이 성성한 머리 literally translates as "starry white hair," which suggests that it is as black as the night sky with starry specks of white in it, something that might be called "salt-and-pepper hair" in the United States.

Dong-A's Prime Korean-English Dictionary (1998)

Friday, May 22, 2020

Does 구닥다리 mean "old chicken legs"?

ANSWER: No, I don't think so.

The word 구닥다리 means the same thing as 구년묵이, so what does 구년묵이 mean?
구년 (舊年) is a Sino-Korean word that literally means "old (舊) year (年)" or "old years," which can translate as "the past." And 묵이 is a pure Korean word that means "an old thing (matter)" or "old stuff," so 구년묵이 can translate as "old stuff from the past," which is somewhat redundant.
By the way, the 묵 in 묵이 comes from the pure Korean verb 묵다, which means "to get old" or "to get stale," and the 이 is a pure Korean suffix that when attached to verb stems turns them into nouns.
But the main purpose of this post is to ask about the origin of 구닥다리, which supposedly means the same thing as 구년묵이. Naver's online dictionary translates 구닥다리 as "outdated," "old-fashioned," or "obsolete." But a book I have says that 구닥다리, even though it is a more popular word than 구년묵이, is a nonstandard word that should be replaced with 구년묵이. But my book does not give the origin of 구닥다리 or explain why it is a nonstandard word, and I have been unable to find any information on its origin.
The 구 in 구닥다리 is probably the Chinese character for "old" (舊 구), but what does 닥다리 mean? 닭다리 (chicken leg)?
I do not speak Japanese, but 구닥다리 sounds Japanese to me. If it is an old Japanese word adopted by Koreans, then that would explain why Koreans consider it to be nonstandard. Does anyone know the origin of 구닥다리?
By the way, 노닥다리 means 늙다리 (old legs), which is an impolite way to refer to old people.

From the book "뜻도 모르고 자주 쓰는 우리말 사전"

From "Dong-A's Prime Korean-English Dictionary" (1998)

From "Dong-A's Prime Korean-English Dictionary" (1998)

From "Dong-A's Prime Korean-English Dictionary" (1998)

Thursday, May 14, 2020

What usually happens after a woman's "sand house" (모래집) breaks?

ANSWER: A baby is born.

모래집, which literally means "sand (모래) house (집)," is the pure Korean word for the "amnion," which is the fluid-filled sac that encloses and protects a baby before it is born. 모래집물 (sandhouse water) is the pure Korean word for the "amniotic fluid" inside the amnion.

모래집 is also another way of saying 모래주머니, which literally means "sand (모래) bag (주머니)" or "sand sack" but can also mean "gizzard," though I don't think a pregnant Korean woman would say to her husband, "Oh, Honey, I think my gizzard just broke."

The Sino-Korean word for the amnion is 양막 (羊膜), which literally means "sheep (羊) membrane (膜)," and the Sino-Korean word for the amniotic fluid is 양수 (羊水), which literally means "sheep (羊) water (水)."

So when a Korean woman's "water breaks," she can choose to say to her husband either, "여보, 내 모래집물이 나온다" (Honey, my sand house water is coming out)," or "여보, 양수가 나온다 (Honey, my sheep water is coming out)."

From Dong-A's Prime Korean-English Dictionary

From Dong-A's Prime Korean-English Dictionary
 

Sunday, May 03, 2020

What does 가랑이가 찢어지게 가난하다 mean?

ANSWER: to be extremely poor

When I first read the Korean proverb 가랑이가 찢어지게 가난하다, which means to be extremely poor, I was confused because it literally translates as "to be so poor that one's crotch splits." I wondered how being poor could cause one's crotch to split.
But the concept of "crotch-splitting" (가랑이 찢어지는 것) started to make a little more sense to me after reading another Korean proverb (뱁새가 황새를 따라가면 다리가 찢어진다) about how a short-legged bird called a Korean crow-tit (뱁새) would split its "legs," or crotch, if it tried to follow in the footsteps of a long-legged stork (황새). In other words, if a crow tit tried to live beyond its means, it would split its crotch, or become poor. Anyway, I think that is what it means.
Then there is the Korean proverb 가랑잎이 솔잎더러 바스락거린다고 한다. The proverb is the Korean equivalent of "The pot calls the kettle black," but it literally translates as "The dried [oak] leaf says to the pine needle, 'You are making rustling noises.'" In other words, the dried oak leaf complains about the rustling noise of the pine needle even though the dried oak leaf makes a much louder rustling noise.
So, my question is this: What do "crotches" (가랑이) have to do with "dried leaves" (가랑잎)?
My dictionary says that 가랑잎 means the same thing as 갈잎, and since 갈 is an abbreviated form of 가을, which means "autumn," 갈잎 literally means "autumn leaves." So wouldn't that suggest that 가랑 also means "autumn," though such a definition is not in my dictionary?
Anyway, another popular Korean proverb is 가랑비에 옷 젖는 줄 모른다, which literally translates as, "In a drizzle, one does not know one's clothes are getting wet." So, 가랑비 means "a light rain" or "drizzle," not "crotch rain" or "autumn rain." That suggests that the 가랑 in 가랑비 is somehow related to 가늘다, which can mean "thin," "small," or "delicate."
And now I have one final question: What is smaller than a louse (이), the plural of which is "lice"?
ANSWER: a baby louse (가랑니)

From Dong-A's Prime Korean-English Dictionary (1998)


Monday, April 27, 2020

What does the 꾸 in 말대꾸 mean?

ANSWER: phrase?

My Korean-English dictionary defines 말대꾸 (-對-) as "a retort" or "a severe (incisive) reply," and the verb 말대꾸하다 means "to talk back," something parents do not like their kids to do.
Anyway, the 말 in 말대꾸 is obviously the pure Korean word for "talk," and the 대(對) is the same 대 that is used in the Sino-Korean word 대답 (對答), which means "a reply" or "an answer." So, even though 말대 (말對) and 말대답 (말對答) essentially mean the same thing, Koreans do not say 말대; instead, they say either 말대꾸하다 or 말대답하다 for "to talk back," though 말대꾸하다 seems to be used more often than 말대답하다.
So, why do Koreans say 말대꾸 instead of just 말대? Well, I think the 대꾸 in 말대꾸 was originally 대구 (對句), which literally means "a responding (對) phrase (句)" but can translate as "a rhyming couplet," like those used in poetry.
Apparently, Koreans used to play a rhyming game where one person would start a rhyming couplet and another would finish it. So, 말대꾸 (-對-) was probably originally 말대구 (말對句), which instead of having a negative connotation had a fun connotation.
Below is another story from "Eo-u's Unofficial Histories" (어우야담 於于野談), written by Joseon scholar and official Yu Mong-in (유몽인 柳夢寅), who lived from 1559 to 1623 and whose pen-name was "Eo-u" (어우 於于). The story is about a young Chae Mu-il (채무일 蔡無逸) and his doting grandfather Chae Su (채수 蔡壽). Chae Mu-il was a talented Joseon civil servant (문신 文臣), a writer (문인 文人), and a painter (화가 畵家), who lived from 1496 to 1546. His grandfather, who lived from 1449 to 1515, was apparently also talented since he held many positions in the government, including being the governor of Chungcheong Province (충청도관차사 忠淸道觀察使) and the top official at the Saheonbu (사헌부 司憲府), which was kind of like the Supreme Court of the Joseon Kingdom. Chae Su was also headmaster of Seonggyungwan (성균관 成均館), which was the top educational institution in the Joseon Kingdom.
What follows is the story of Chae Mu-il (채무일 蔡無逸) and his grandfather Chae Su (채수 蔡壽) playing a game of "responding couplet" (대구 對句). Pay attention to the number of syllables and other similarities of the couplets.
---------------------
Chae Su (蔡壽 채수) had (有 유) a grandson (孫 손) named (曰 왈) Mu-il (無逸 무일), [whose] age (年 년) [was] barely (纔 재) five (五 오) or six (六 륙) years (歲 세) [old]. Chae Su (蔡壽 채수) one night (夜 야) was hugging (抱 포) Mu-il (無逸 무일) while (而 이) lying down (臥 와) [in bed when he suggested they] first (先 선), [before going to sleep], make (作 작) a one-phrase (一句 일구) poem (詩 시). [He] said (曰 왈), "[My] grandson (孫子 손자) night after night (夜夜 야야) reads (讀 독) books (書 서)--NOT (不 불)!
[This] caused (使 사) Mu-il (無逸 무일) to reply (對) to it (之) with the response (對曰 대왈), "[My] grandfather (祖父 조부) morning after morning (朝朝 조조) [drinks] alcohol (藥酒 약주)--intensely (猛 맹)."
Chae Su (蔡 채), another time (又 우), [when] out in the snow (於雪中 어설중) [and] carrying Mu-il on his back (負無逸 무일) while (而 이) walking (行 행), made (作 작) a couplet (一句 일구), saying (曰 왈), "[Where] dogs (犬 견) run (走 주), apricot (梅 매) blossoms (花 화) fall (落 락)."
[When his grandfather] finished speaking (語卒 어졸), Mu-il (無逸 무일) replied (對曰 대왈), "[Where] chickens (鷄 계) walk (行 행), bamboo (竹 죽) shoots (葉 엽) grow (成 성)."
-----------------------
Apparently, where there were dog tracks in the snow, there were also apricot blossoms on the ground, and where there were chicken tracks, there were bamboo shoots sticking up out of the snow, suggesting that chicken poop is good fertilizer for bamboo.
Notice the similarities in the rhyming couplets. This old story suggests to me that Koreans who lived centuries ago were just as clever and playful as Koreans who live today.
손자야야독서불 (孫子夜夜讀書不)
조부조조약주맹 (祖父朝朝藥酒猛)
견주매화락 (犬走梅花落)
계행죽엽성 (鷄行竹葉成)

From Dong-A's Prime Korean-English Dictionary (1998)

From 동아 새 國語辭典 (1992)


Sunday, April 26, 2020

Which is correct: A) "동생이 '난 학교에 안 가겠다'라고 말했다" or B) "동생이 '난 학교에 안 가겠다'고 말했다"?

ANSWER: A

In his book "나의 한국어 바로 쓰기 노트" (My Notes for Correct Korean Usage), one of the things that Mr. Nam Yeong-sin (남영신) writes about is the correct way to write direct and indirect speech in Korean, and one of the first things he does is ask which of the two Korean sentences is correct:
A: 동생이 "난 학교에 안 가겠다"라고 말했다.
A: My younger brother/sister said, "I'm not going to school."
B: 동생이 "난 학교에 안 가겠다"고 말했다.
B: My younger brother/sister said, "I'm not going to school."
He writes that if you want to quote someone, which means to use the person's exact words (direct speech), you must include the postpositional particle -라고 or -이라고 after the quote. But if you just want to report what the person said without using the person's exact words (indirect speech), then you would just use the ending -다고, -ㄴ다고, or 는다고. So, that means Sentence A above would be the correct way to write a direct quotation in Korean. 

If you wanted to simply report what the younger brother or sister said, without using his or her exact words, then you would omit the quotation marks ("...") and the 난 (I'm) and just write 동생이 학교에 안 가겠다고 말했다.

I mention this because I seem to remember reading elsewhere that Sentence B would be the correct way to write a direct quotation. In other words, I read that -라 or -이라 was unnecessary. So, there seems to be some confusion among Koreans about the correct way to quote someone.

I think Mr. Nam is correct because if the direct quote were "난 학교에 안 가겠어요," then 동생이 "난 학교에 안 가겠어요"라고 말했다" sounds much better than 동생이 "난 학교에 안 가겠어요"고 말했다.






Friday, April 24, 2020

What does 슈룹 mean?

ANSWER: umbrella (우산)

The Sino-Korean word for "umbrella" is 우산 (雨傘), which literally means "rain (雨) umbrella (傘)," A "rain umbrella" (우산) is usually more waterproof (방수성 防水性) than a "sun (양 陽) umbrella (산 傘)," or parasol (양산). So, the Chinese character 傘 (산), by itself, means "umbrella," and the character even kind of looks like an umbrella. The Chinese phrase for "under an umbrella" is 傘下 (산하), which nowadays usually means "under the influence or protection of." For example, 산하기관 (傘下機關) means "an affiliated organization," but literally translates as "an organization under the umbrella [of]."  And 산하회사 (傘下會社) means "affiliated companies," but literally translates as "companies under the umbrella [of]."

This morning I was reading a short story about an umbrella when I suddenly started wondering if there was a "pure Korean word" (순우리말) for "umbrella." When I checked my pure-Korean-word dictionary, I found the word 슈룹, which was a word I had never heard used before, though it does appear in my Korean-Korean dictionary with a quote from the Hunminjeongeum Haerye (훈민정음해례 訓民正音解例), which was a supplement to the Hunminjeongeum (훈민정음, 1446) that included examples of Korean words written in the new Korean script. The quote from the ancient document is as follows:
슈룹爲雨繖 -- "A 슈룹 is (爲 위) an umbrella (雨繖 우산)."

The character 繖 (산) also means "umbrella," but is now less frequently used than 傘 (산).


Anyway, what follows is the umbrella story I was reading. It is supposedly a fairly well-known story in Korea about a particular 청백리 (淸白吏), which was a title given to "clean-handed government officials" during the Yi Dynasty. The character 淸 (청) means "clear" and 白 (백) means "white" or "clean," so 청백 literally translates as "clear (淸) and clean (白)" but together can translate as "uprightness," "honest," "clean," or "incorruptible." The character 吏 (리) means "officer" or "official." The "clean-handed official" in this story was Yu Gwan (유관 柳寬), who lived from 1346 to 1433. The story comes from a text entitled "靑坡劇談 (청파극담), which was written by Cheong Pa Lee Yuk (청파 이육 靑坡李陸) sometime before 1512, when it was first compiled by the writer's son. Cheong Pa (청파 靑坡) was the penname of Lee Yuk (이육 李陸), who lived from 1438 to 1498. The word 극담 (劇談) can translate as "light-hearted stories," so 청파극담 can translate as "The Lighthearted Stories of Jeongpa."
Prime Minister Yu Gwan (柳政丞寬 유정승관) was pure (淸 청) and poor (貧 빈), yet was self-reliant (自守). Once (嘗 상) a big (大 대) rain (雨 우) continued (經 경) [for] a month (月 월), [and his] house (屋 옥) was leaking (漏 루) like (如 여) hemp (麻 마). 
Yu Gwan (寬 관) [was sitting in his house] holding (手 수) an umbrella (傘 산), sheltering (庇 비) from the rain (雨 우), [when he] looked back (顧 고) and said to (謂 위) [his] wife (夫人 부인), quote (曰 왈), "[In] a house without umbrellas (無傘之家 무산지가), how (何以 하이) can (能 능) [they] endure (堪 감)?"  
His wife (夫人 부인) said (曰 왈), "Those without umbrellas (無傘者 무산자) must (必 필) have (有 유) prevention (備 비).
Yu Gwan (寬 관) smiled (笑 소) at her (之 지). 
I assume the "prevention" the wife was talking about was "a roof that doesn't leak." In other words, the wife seems to be referring to the expression 유비무환 (有備無患), which literally translates as, "[If] there is (有) preparedness (備), there is no (無) anxiety or disaster (患)," an expression that often translates into English as "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

What could a "yangban" (양반) make with a 3D pen?

ANSWER: He could make a yangban hat (갓) and a bow (활), which would be handy if he came across any cucumber (오이) zombies.
I like the guy's commentary in the following video.
"뒤집어주면 놀랍게도 똑같습니다."
"Surprisingly, if you turn it over, it is exactly the same."

Can water break (부서지다)?

ANSWER: Yes

What does 바른말 mean? "Truth" or "appropriate words"? What about the word 산산히?
I find it interesting, for some reason, that English and Korean both use "break" (부서지다) when talking about waves. Why not "crumble" (부스러지다)?
"파도가 바위에 부딪쳐 산산히 부서졌다."
"The wave hit the rock and broke to pieces."
The above sentence came from a book "혼동하기 쉬운 말을 비교하여 풀이한 논리 논술 바른말 사전," which can translate as "Dictionary of Appropriate Words for Reasoning and Discourse: Contrasting and Defining Easily Confused Words."
Two easily confused words that are not in the dictionary are 산산이 and 산산히. The word 산산이, not 산산히, means "to pieces," The word 산산히 means "refreshingly."

From a book entitled "혼동하기 쉬운 말을 비교하여 풀이한 논리 논술 바른말 사전"

Monday, April 20, 2020

What's the difference between 본데 and 본때?

ANSWER: Nothing?

본데 is a noun that means "good manners," "discipline," or "experience," and 본때 is a noun that means "a pattern," "a model," or "an example," but I wonder if they originally meant the same thing.
Anyway, 본데 있다 can translate as either "to have good manners" or "to be experienced," and 본데 없다 can translate as either "to have no manners" or "to be inexperienced." Likewise, 본때 있다 can translate as either "to be a good model" or "to be a good example," which implies being "attractive" or "impressive"; and 본때 없다 can translate as "to be a bad model" or "to be a bad example," which implies being "unattractive" or "unimpressive."
The 본 in 본데 seems to be a form of the verb 보다, which means "to see" or "to experience," so since 데 can mean "a place" or "a situation," 본데 seems to literally mean "a place or situation in which to see and experience." So, if a person has been in a place or situation where he or she could see and experience things, including good manners, he or she is likely to have experience and good manners (본데 있다), but if a person has not been in a place or situation where he or she could see and experience things, including good manners, he or she is likely to be inexperienced and to lack good manners (본데 없다).
The 본 in 본때 also seems to be a form of the verb 보다 (to see or experience), so since 때 means "time" or "opportunity," 본때 seems to literally translate as "a time or opportunity to see and experience." That would mean that the only difference between 본데 and 본때 is that 본데 means "a place to see and experience," and 본때 means "a time to see and experience," which would mean that both of them mean "an opportunity to see and experience."
However, my Korean-Korean dictionary says that the 본 in 본때 is a reference to 본보기 (本보기), which my Korean-English dictionary defines as "an example," "a model," or "a pattern," but which literally means "seeing (보기) the original (本)."
If a person "is experienced and has good manners" (본데 있다), he or she is a "model or good example" (본때 있다) for others, so I suspect that originally the only difference between 본데 있다 and 본때 있다 was how different people pronounced them.
HERE is a link to a Korean article that talks about 본데 and 본때.
Dong-a's Prime Korean-English Dictionary (1998)

Saturday, April 18, 2020

What does 낯가림 mean?

ANSWER: to be afraid of or shy of strangers

낯 means "face," and 가림 is the noun form of 가리다, which can mean "to distinguish" or "to discriminate," so 낯가림 literally means "facial (낯) discrimination (가림)." It is usually used to describe infants or young children who are shy of or afraid of strangers, something that is also referred to as "stranger anxiety." I mention the word because I came across an example sentence in my dictionary that seems to mistranslate it. Here is the sentence:
아기들은 낯가림할 수 있는 무렵이 되면 잘 보챈다.
"Babies fret [are fretful] when cutting their teeth." 
"Cutting their teeth" refers to when babies first start getting their teeth. That would translate as 이가 나다, not as 낯가림하다."


Anyway, what I really want to talk about is the verb 보채다, which besides meaning "to fret" or "to make a fuss," can also translate as "to pester," something that children often do. Another word that means "to pester" is 조르다, which, interestingly, can also mean "to tighten." Here is a photo of the definition of 조르다 from my dictionary:


Finally, I would like to mention the word 볶다, which besides meaning "to parch" or "to pan fry," as in the word 볶음밥 (pan-fried rice), can also mean "to pester." So, 나 좀 볶지 마라 can translate as either "Please stop pan-frying me" or "Please stop pestering me." If someone is pestering you a lot, you can use 들볶다 instead of 볶다. The 들 in 들볶다 is a pure Korean prefix that means "a lot" or "excessively" (몹시, 굉장히). But 들볶다 can only mean "to pester," not "to pan fry." Here are a couple of example sentences using 들볶다 from my dictionary:
며느리를 들볶는다  [She] torments her daugter-in-law.
그 여자는 남편을 항상 들볶는다 She henpecks her husband all the time. 

Saturday, April 11, 2020

What does 언문(諺文) mean?

ANSWER: hangeul (한글)

My Korean-English dictionary defines 언문 (諺文) as "the Korean script" or "the Korean letters," which is a reference to Hangeul (한글), but my Korean-Korean dictionary says that it was "a vulgar way of referring to 한글 in the past" (지난날, '한글'을 속되게 이르던 말).
According to my Chinese character dictionary, the 언(諺) in 언문(諺文) means "vulgar language (상말)." And since the Chinese character 文(문) means "characters," "letters," or "writing," that means the word 언문(諺文) literally translates as "vulgar letters" or "vulgar writing."
"Vulgar writing"? I find that interesting since the character 諺 (언) is composed of the characters 言(언) and 彦(언), which means "speech (言)" and "scholar (彦)," suggesting that the character 언(諺) might have once meant "scholarly speech."
Actually, the word 언문 (諺文) was originally not a specific reference to Hangeul (한글) but rather a general reference to any writing system in the countries bordering China that was not Chinese writing. For example, I have read the Manchu alphabet was also called 諺文 (언문).
Could the average Chinese read the non-Chinese writings of the countries surrounding China? I certainly doubt it, but probably some of China's "scholars" (彦 언) could, suggesting that 諺文 (언문) might have originally meant "scholarly writing."
Dong-A's Prime Korean-English Dictionary (1998)

동아 새국어사전, desk dictionary (1992)

Hyewon Publishing's Chinese Character Dictionary (혜원출판사 활용대옥편), 2007

Hyewon Publishing's Chinese Character Dictionary (혜원출판사 활용대옥편), 2007

What does 복방귀 mean?

ANSWER: a fart of good fortune

In his book "입에 익은 우리 익은말" ("Idioms Familiar to Our Mouths"), Professor Kim Jun-yeong (김준영) writes about the phrase 복방귀, which can translate as "a fart of good fortune."
Professor Kim tells the story of a bride who accidently farts while presenting gifts to her new in-laws after her wedding (폐백). The mother-in-law, fearing that her new daughter-in-law might be embarrassed by the incident, tells her that the fart is a sign of good fortune (복방귀). Happy to hear this, the new daughter-in-law brags that she also farted while getting out of the bridal sedan chair (신부가마).
The above story is also mentioned in THIS 2007 Korean-language newspaper article on Professor Kim, who was about 87 years old at the time.
By the way, I have noticed that farting seems to be a fairly common topic of conversation in Korea. In other words, Koreans do not seem to be as embarrassed by the subject as many Americans seem to be. The fact that 복방귀 was mentioned in the linked newspaper article is evidence of this.


The following Korean video also tells a story about 복방귀.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Does the Korean word 갸우뚱 sound Chinese?

ANSWER: I think so, but I can't prove it.

Today I came across the word 갸우뚱 when I was reading the prologue of a Korean book entitled "매달린 절벽에서 손을 뗄 수 있는가?" which can translate as "Can we remove our hands if we are hanging from a cliff?" My dictionary defines 갸우뚱, which sounds like the name of a Chinese leader, as "moving slantwise," and the phrase 고개를 갸우뚱하다 translates as "to tilt one's head."
The prologue of the book started as follows:
방금 잠옷을 입었다면, 그다음 여러분은 어떻게 행동하시겠습니까? 고개를 갸우뚱거리게 만드는 질문일 겁니다.
After having just put on your pajamas, what would you all do next? It is probably a question that makes you tilt your heads from side to side.
If you speak to dogs in English, or in Korean, they often stare at you while tilting their heads from side to side as if to say, "What are you talking about?" So, some people might find the question "What do you do after putting on your pajamas?" a little strange since putting on pajamas usually means you would then go to bed, but many times we put on our pajamas and then do other things, such as read a book or watch TV.
Anyway, for some reason, the word 갸우뚱 sounds more Chinese to me than Korean. There is the Korean verb 갸울다, which has the same meaning as 기울다 (tilt, slant, incline) but in a smaller sense, which suggests that 갸울다 sounds cuter than 기울다. But what does the -뚱 in 갸우뚱 mean? That 뚱 is what really makes it sound Chinese to me.
So, curious about the origin of 갸우뚱, I googled it and came across the following video, which caused me to lose interest in the origin of 갸우뚱.


Lyrics:
갸우뚱 멀뚱 갸우뚱 멀뚱 갸우뚱 멀뚱 갸우뚱 멀뚱 갸우뚱 갸우뚱 
어쩜그래 아이쿠 답답해 그렇게 내 마음을 몰라 몰라  
더는 기다릴 수 없어 난 오늘은 꼭 너와 girl's day party~  
갸우뚱 알쏭달쏭 하네 멀뚱 나만 바라 보네  
갸우뚱 내가 좋긴 하니미쳐 내가 너땜에  
갸우뚱 흔들리는 내맘 멀뚱 나를 놓칠 거니  
갸우뚱 헷갈리기 전에 지금 말해 나를 정말 갖고 싶다고  
갸우뚱 갸우뚱 멀뚱 멀뚱  
애매모호 하게 때론 티미하게 대체 알 수가 없어  
Let's get this straight  
콩닥콩닥 해 내 가슴이 어떡해야 나를 안아 줄까  
미쳤나봐 나 왜 이러니 어쨌든 난 너와 girls day party  
갸우뚱 알쏭달쏭 하네 멀뚱 나만 바라 보네  
갸우뚱 내가 좋긴 하니미쳐 내가 너 땜에  
갸우뚱 흔들리는 내 맘 멀뚱 나를 놓칠 거니  
갸우뚱 헷갈리기 전에 지금 말해 나를 정말 갖고 싶다고  
너 원하는 내 맘을 정말 모르니 더는 주저 하지 말고 날 가져봐  
갸우뚱 알쏭달쏭 하네 멀뚱 나만 바라보네  
갸우뚱 내가 좋긴 하니 미쳐 내가 너 땜에  
갸우뚱 흔들리는 내 맘 멀뚱 나를 놓칠 거니  
갸우뚱 헷갈리기 전에 지금 말해 나를 정말 갖고 싶다고  
갸우뚱 갸우뚱 
The Korean lyrics were copied from HERE.