Wednesday, June 06, 2018

What does 아량전 (亞兩箭) mean?

Naver's Korean dictionary defines 아량전 (亞兩箭) as follows:
"호죽(楛竹)ㆍ쇠심줄ㆍ새의 깃ㆍ복숭아 껍질ㆍ아교(阿膠) 따위의 일곱 가지 재료(材料)로 만든 화살. 무게가 약 150g"
箭 (전) means "arrow," so 아량전 was a kind of arrow. It was supposedly made from seven materials, including bird feathers (새의 깃), ox-hide glue (아교), ox tendons (쇠심줄), and the skin of a peach (복숭아 껍질).
To make an arrow, using bird feathers for the fletching makes sense, ox-hide glue to glue the feathers onto the shaft makes sense, and ox tendons to tie the arrowhead to the shaft makes sense, but what was the purpose of the peach skin?

Sunday, June 03, 2018

What does 夫鷄 (부계) mean?

In its translation of the following article from the Annals of King Sejong, the National Institute of Korean History translated 夫鷄 (부계) as "대저 닭은," which translates as "generally speaking, the chicken," but I think 夫鷄 should be translated here as "male (夫) chicken (鷄)" based not only on the context of which it is used in this article but also on how it was used in another article I have read.

Also, the article mentions 明水 (명수), which literally means "bright (明) water (水)." The "bright water" was supposedly collected from the dew that formed on mirrors while they reflected the image of the moon.

Anyway, the following article is talking about ritual wine and water cups referred to as the "rooster cup" (鷄彛 - 계이) and the "phoenix cup" (鳥彛 - 조이). The drawings of the cups below are also from the Annals of King Sejong.

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《예서(禮書)》에 이르기를,

"계이(鷄彝) 조이(鳥彝) 술잔에 새겨 그림을 그려서 닭과 () 형상을 만든다. 제사[春祀] 여름 제사[夏禴] 관향(祼享) 계이와 조이를 사용한다. 대저 닭은 동방(東方) 생물(生物)이니 ()이요, [] 남방(南方) 생물(生物)이니 ()이다. 이것이 선왕께서 제사와 여름 제사에 사용하는 까닭이다. 봄에는 계이(鷄彝) 명수(明水) 채우고, 조이(鳥彝) 울창(鬱鬯) 채우며, 여름에는 조이에 명수(明水) 채우고, 계이(鷄彝) 울창(鬱鬯) 채운다. 가이(斝彝) 황이(黃彝) 서로 사용됨도 역시 이와 같다."

The Book of Rites (禮書) says () the gye-i (鷄彝) [and] jo-i (鳥彝) are named for () the cravings () and () drawings () on them (), [which] are () in the shapes of roosters[or] phoenixes (鷄鳳之形). [At] the spring and summer memorial services (春社夏禴), in the wine-pouring ceremony (), [they] use () the gye-i (鷄彝) [and] jo-i (鳥彝). The Rooster (夫鷄) is the creature of the east (東方之物) [and] is benevolence (人也). The phoenix () is the creature of the south (南方之物) [and] is propriety (禮也). These () [were] the former kings’ (先王) reasons (所以) [for] using () [them at] the memorials (祀禴也). In the spring (春則), the gye-i (鷄彝) is filled with () bright water (明水), [and] the jo-i (鳥彝) is filled with () ulchang liquor (鬱鬯). In the summer (夏則), the jo-i (鳥彝) is filled with () bright water (明水), [and] the gye-i (鷄彝) is filled with () ulchang liquor (鬱鬯). The ga-i [cup] (斝彝) [and] hwang-i [cup] (黃彝) are mutually used (相爲用) also () like () this ().

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

What did the Chinese consider appropriate for wind and rain?

The rain () is gentle (), the wind () appropriate (調).

順調 (순조) can mean "favorable," "smooth," "satisfactory," "seasonable," "normal," or "appropriate." So, what did the Chinese consider "favorable" or "appropriate" in regard to wind and rain? Well, the following expression supposedly has a similar meaning to the one above:

[Every] fifth [day] () wind (); [every] tenth () rain ().

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Why 조카딸 instead of 계집조카 for the word "niece"?

조카 means "nephew," and 딸 means "daughter," so why does 조카딸 mean "niece" instead of "nephew's daughter"?

My Korean dictionary says 조카 is "the son of a brother or sister," and 조카딸 is "the daughter of a brother or sister." There is no word 조카아들 (nephew's son), so it appears Koreans attached "daughter" (딸) to "nephew" (조카) to make the word "niece," more evidence men come first in Korean society. But why did they attach the word "daughter" (딸) instead of "girl" (계집)? Doesn't "girl nephew" (계집조카) make more sense than "nephew's daughter" (조카딸)?

There are two Chinese characters that mean "nephew": 姪 (질) and 甥 (생). The difference between them is 姪 (질) is "the son of a brother," and 甥 (생) is "the son of a sister," which means both can translate as "nephew." My Chinese character dictionary says the word 姪女 (질녀) can translate as "a brother's daughter" (형제의 딸), which means "niece." Moreover, the character 甥 (생) can also mean "brother-in-law" (처남), so the word 甥女 (생녀) literally means "brother-in-law's (甥) daughter (女)," which means she is also "a sister's daughter" or "niece." Therefore, the word 조카딸 seems to come from the Chinese words that mean either brother or brother-in-law's daughter.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

How is 㔖 pronounced?

Has anyone ever seen the above Chinese character? It was actually created in Korea as a "transliteration character (音譯字 - 음역자), a character used to represent a syllable sound in pure Korean words, place- and personal names. It represents the Korean sound /각/ by taking the Chinese character 加 (가) and adding the Korean consonant ㄱ, which means it was created after Hangeul was invented. So, if Hangeul was already invented, why not just write 각 instead of inventing a transliteration character? The same question could be asked about the transliteration character 㔔 (강).

Below is a link to other Korean transliteration characters:

Sunday, February 26, 2017

What's the difference between 부인(夫人) and 사모(師母)?

Both 부인(夫人) and 사모님(師母님) are respectful terms used to refer to another man's wife, but while 부인 can be used to refer respectfully to any other man's wife, 사모님 was originally used to refer respectfully to the wife of a teacher or mentor.

부인(夫人) literally means "a husband's (夫) person (人)" or "a man's (夫) person (人)," but even though the literal meaning sounds more like the description of a servant than a wife, 부인 is still considered to be a polite reference to another man's wife. If you wanted to be really polite, you could say 영부인 (令夫人), which could translate as "beautiful (영) wife (夫人)," "good (令) wife (夫人)," or "esteemed (令) wife (夫人)."

Besides meaning "to command" or "to order," 令 (령) can, strangely, also mean "beautiful" or "good." It can also be used as an "honorific title," which is why 영부인 (令夫人) could also be translated as "esteemed (令) wife (夫人)." Even though Koreans seem to use 영부인 more to refer to the wife of a president, there is no reason it cannot be used to refer to the wife of any person you respect. In other words, using 영부인 to refer to a Korean friend's wife may get a smile from your friend and an embarrassed giggle from his wife, but both would still likely appreciate the polite gesture.

As for 사모님 (師母님), even though it literally means "teacher's (師) mother (母)," it was originally used to refer respectfully to the wife of a person's teacher or mentor. Because a teacher is highly regarded in Korean society, 사모님 is generally considered to be more polite than 부인, but 부인 is still considered to be a polite reference. Generally, a teacher or mentor is an older person, so 사모님 can be used to refer to an older friend's wife, but it would probably sound strange if used to refer to a younger friend's wife. In other words, 부인 can be politely used with anyone, but 사모님 should be used only to refer to the wife of an older person or friend, especially if that person or friend is your teacher or mentor.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

What does 미망인 (未亡人) mean?

未亡人 (미망인) literally means "still not (未) dead (亡) person (人)," but my dictionary defines it as "a widow" or "a widowed lady." It also gives the example 전쟁 미망인, which it defines as "a war widow." What bothers me about the definition is that the word literally means "undead (未亡) person (人)," not "undead (未亡) wife (妻)." The Chinese character for "wife" is 妻 (처), so why wasn't it used instead of 人 (인),  which means "people"? Besides, doesn't 과부 (寡婦) already mean "widow"?

I have not really researched the word 미망인 (未亡人), but it seems like a better definition than "widow" would be "survivor," which could include anyone still living, man or woman. If 미망인 were translated as "survivor, then 전쟁 미망인 would mean "war (전쟁) survivors (미망인)," referring to people who did not die in the war. Anyway, I have a feeling that sometime in the distant past the word 미망인 was mistranslated.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Why is 唜 pronounced as both "말" and "끗" ?

Koreans created the character to represent the pure Korean syllable sound of "끗" or "끝," both of which are pronounced /끋/. The character was used for pure Korean personal and place names. The 末 (말) portion of the character means "end," which translates in Korean as "끝," so when it is used to mean "end," the character is pronounced "말," but when it is used to represent the pure Korean syllable sound, it is pronounced "끗."

The 叱 (질) portion of the character means "to scold" or "to shout at," but, when used as part of other characters, it is used to  represent the ending consonants "ㅅ," "ㅆ," "ㅈ," "ㅊ," or "ㅌ," all of which are pronounced /ㄷ/ when they come at the end of a Korean syllable. The 叱 essentially tells us the character is being used to represent a pure Korean syllable sound ending in one of the ending consonants just mentioned, and 末 tell us the sound is the same as the pure Korean word that means "end," which could be 끝 or 끗 since both words have the same sound. I am a little suspicious of the character being used to mean "end" since the character 末 (말) means the same thing and is much easier to write.

Here is a list of other characters with 叱 (질) in them that represent pure Korean syllable sounds that end in one of the following consonants: "ㅅ," "ㅆ," "ㅈ," "차," or "ㅌ." Even though all the syllable sounds shown below end in ㅅ, the characters also represent the sounds of any syllables ending in one of the consonants just mentioned since the ending consonant sound would be the same as those that end in "ㅅ."
  • 㖙 (갓) -- 加 (가) + 叱 (질) = the sound /갓/
  • 㖋 (갯) -- 介 (개) + 叱 (질) = the sound /갯/
  • 唟 (것) -- 去 (거) + 叱 (질) = the sound /것/
  • 㖜 (곳) -- 高 (고) + 叱 (질) = the sound /곳/; the 叱 replaces the 冋 (경)
  • 㖛 (곳) -- 古 (고) + 叱 (질) = the sound /곳/
  • 廤 (곳) -- 庫 (고) + 叱 (질) = the sound /곳/
  • 蒊 (곳) -- 花 (화) + 叱 (질) = the sound /곳/; 花 means "flower" (꽃), so why not /꼿/?
  • 㖌 (굿) -- 仇 (구) + 叱 (질) = the sound /굿/
  • 莻 (늦) -- 艿 (잉) + 叱 (질) = the sound /늦/; 莻 (늦) also means "늦다" (late), so /늦/
  • 㘏 (돗) -- 道 (도) + 叱 (질) = the sound /돗/
  • 㖍 (둣) -- 斗 (두) + 叱 (질) = the sound /둣/
  • 㖚 (붓) -- 付 (줄) + 叱 (질) = the sound /붓/
  • 㕾 (솟) -- 小 (소) + 叱 (질) = the sound /솟/
  • 㘒 (씻/씨) -- 種 (종) + 叱 (질) = the sound /씻 or 씨/; 種 (종) means "seed," or "씨" in pure Korean
  • 厑 (앳) -- 厓 (애) + 叱 (질) = the sound /앳/; the 叱 replaces the 圭 (규)
  • 旕 (엇) -- 於 (어) + 叱 (질) = the sound /엇/
  • 㖳 (엿) -- 汝 (여) + 叱 (질) = the sound /엿/
  • 㖲 (엿) -- 如 (여) + 叱 (질) = the sound /엿/
  • 夞 (욋) -- 外 (외) + 叱 (질) = the sound /욋/
  • 㗡 (잇) -- 芿 (잉) + 叱 (질) = the sound /잇/; the 叱 replaces the "ㅇ" ending sound
  • 㗯 (잣) -- 者 (자) + 叱 (질) = the sound /잣/
  • 巼 (팟) -- 巴 (파) + 叱 (질) = the sound /팟/
  • 喸 (폿) -- 甫 (포) + 叱 (질) = the sound /폿/
When 叱 (질) is at the top of a character, it seems to represent syllables with initial double consonant sounds. Consider the following:
  • 㖰 (똥) -- 叱 (질) + 同 (동) = the sound /똥/
  • 哛 (뿐) -- 叱 (질) + 分 (분) = the sound /뿐/
However, even though 叱 (질) at the top of the character 㖎 (갯), the character is pronounced "갯," not "깻," which makes me suspicious, especially since the character 㖋 (갯) already represents the sound "갯." In other words, why would they need 㖎 (갯) if they already have 㖋 (갯)? There may be no need for the "깻" sound now, but maybe there was a need in the distant past. Anyway, it makes me wonder.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Why does 춘하추동 (春夏秋冬) start with 춘?

When listing the seasons of the year, Koreans often say "춘하추동 (春夏秋冬)," which literally means "spring (春) summer (夏) fall (秋) winter (冬)." The reason they start with "spring" (春) is that "spring" is the first three months in the lunar calendar. Since there are twelve months in a lunar year, the four seasons are three months each. Using a solar calendar, 일월 (一月) would translate as "January," 이월 (二月) as "February," and 삼월 (삼월) as "March," but using a lunar calendar, 일월 (一月) would translate as "the first month of spring," 이월 (二月 as "the second month of spring," and 삼월 (三月) as "the third month of spring." That means that 사월 (四月) would translate as "April" using the solar calendar, but could translate as "the first month of summer" using the lunar calendar, or simply "the fourth month of the lunar calendar." Confusing? Here is another way that can be used to refer to the months of a lunar calendar.

If you want to list a progressive series of three in Chinese, you can use the characters 孟 (맹), 仲 (중), and 季 (계).  The character 孟 (맹) means "first"; 仲 (중), "next" or "second"; and 季 (계), "last," so the lunar months can also be written as follows:
  1. 孟春 (맹춘) -- "the first month of spring."
  2. 仲春 (중춘) -- "the second month of spring"
  3. 季春 (계춘) -- "the last month of spring"
  4. 孟夏 (맹하) -- "the first month of summer"
  5. 仲夏 (중하) -- "the second month of summer"
  6. 季夏 (계하) -- "the last month of summer"
  7. 孟秋 (맹추) -- "the first month of fall"
  8. 仲秋 (중추) -- "the second month of fall"
  9. 季秋 (계추) -- "the third month of fall"
  10. 孟冬 (맹동) -- "the first month of winter"
  11. 仲冬 (중동) -- "the second month of winter"
  12. 季冬 (계동) -- "the last month of winter.

What does "손돌바람" mean?

Originally, "Sondol's Wind" (손돌바람) referred to a cold, hard wind that begins blowing about the 20th day of the 10th month of the lunar calendar. Though the 9th, 10th, and 11th months of the solar calendar would be considered the months of autumn, the 10th month of the lunar calendar is considered the first month of winter, so it would not be unusual for a cold, hard wind to blow during the first month of winter. The question some people may ask, however, is why would it begin blowing on the 20th day of the first month of winter?

According to one story, during the time of Korea's Goryeo Dynasty (918 - 1392 A.D.), a sailor named "Sondol" (손돌 - 孫乭) was rowing a boat carrying the king when somewhere between "Tongjin (통진 - 通津) and Ganghwa (강화 - 江華) heavy wind and waves began to put the boat in danger. The king, for some reason, blamed Sondol (손돌) for the danger they were in and had him killed. The blame and punishment was considered unfair, so, afterwards, when there was a cold, hard wind blowing at about the same time each year, people began calling it "Sondol's wind," which translates in Korean as either 손돌바람 or 손돌풍 (孫乭風). Sondol (손돌) was apparently killed sometime around the 20th day of the 10th month of the lunar calendar. Now, however, 손돌바람 can be used to refer to any "cold, hard wind" anytime of the year. There is also the expression 손돌이추위, which translates as "Sondol's (손돌이) cold (추위)."

Even without knowing that Sondol (손돌 - 孫乭) was a simple oarsman on a boat, one could have guessed his low social status by his name because the word "돌" was commonly used in the names of male servants. The female equivalent would be "순." For example, some people may have heard stories, songs, or jokes using the names 갑돌이 and 갑순이, names that people seem to associate with simple people from the countryside.

What does the word 돌 (乭) mean? Besides being used for the name of a person, it is also the sound for the pure Korean word for "rock." The Korean alphabet was not invented until the Joseon Dynasty, so since the story of "Sondol" (손돌) happened during the Koryeo Dynasty, the dynasty before Joseon, Sondol's name would have had to be written in Chinese characters. The Chinese character for "rock" is 石 (석), so sometimes "Sondol's wind" has been written as 손석풍 (孫石風) instead of 손돌풍 (孫乭風). The problem with the word 손석풍 is that the sailor's name was 손돌, not 손석. To solve this problem, Koreans invented a new Chinese character, one to represent the Korean sound /돌/.

Notice the Chinese character 乭 (돌) is made up of the Chinese character for "rock" (石) and 乙 (을). The Chinese character 乙 (을) was often used to represent the Korean letter "ㄹ" before "Hangeul"  was invented. The combination of 石 and 乙 was a way of saying that 乭 should be pronounced using the pronunciation for the pure Korean word for "rock" (도+ㄹ= 돌). In other words, 乭 (돌) was created to represent the sound /돌/, not the meaning "rock." Why would Koreans create a new character for "rock" when there was already one?

Here are other examples of characters Koreans have created to represent the sounds of Korean syllables ending in "ㄹ":
  • 㐓 (갈) -- 可(가) + 乙(을) = the sound /갈/
  • 乫 (갈) -- 加(가) + 乙(을) = the sound /갈/
  • 乬 (걸) -- 巨(거) + 乙(을) = the sound /걸/
  • 㐦 (걸) -- 擧(거) + 乙(을) = the sound /걸/
  • 㐣 (골) -- 庫(고) + 乙(을) = the sound /골/
  • 㐇 (굴) -- 九(구) + 乙(을) = the sound /굴/
  • 㐝 (굴) -- 拘(구) + 乙(을) = the sound /굴/
  • 㐎 (글) -- 文(문) + 乙(을) = the sound /글/; 文(문) = "writing" or "글" in pure Korean
  • 㐞 (길) -- 其(기) + 乙(을) = the sound /길/
  • 㐟 (길) -- 非(비) + 乙(을) = the sound /길/; seems it should be "빌," not "길"
  • 㐐 (놀) -- 奴(노) + 乙(을) = the sound /놀/
  • 㐗 (놀) -- 老(노) + 乙(을) = the sound /놀/
  • 㐑 (돌) -- 冬(동) + 乙(을) = the sound /돌/; exchange the "ㅇ" for "ㄹ"
  • 乧 (둘) -- 斗(두) + 乙(을) = the sound /둘/
  • 㐙 (둘) -- 豆(두) + 乙(을) = the sound /둘/
  • 㐢 (뜰) -- 浮(부) + 乙(을) = the sound /뜰/; 浮(부) = "to float" or "뜨다" in pure Korean
  • 朰 (몰) -- 木(목) + 乙(을) = the sound /몰/
  • 乶 (볼) -- 甫(보) + 乙(을) = the sound /볼/
  • 㐊 (사) -- 士(사) + 乙(을) = the sound /살/
  • 乷 (살) -- 沙(사) + 乙(을) = the sound /살/
  • 㐥 (설) -- 鋤(서) + 乙(을) = the sound /설/
  • 㐒 (솔) -- 召(소) + 乙(을) = the sound /솔/
  • 乺 (솔) -- 所(소) + 乙(을) = the sound /솔/
  • 㐘 (쌀) -- 米(미) + 乙(을) = the sound /쌀/; 米(미) = "rice" or "쌀" in pure Korean
  • 乻 (얼) -- 於(어) + 乙(을) = the sound /얼/
  • 㐏 (올) -- 五(오) + 乙(을) = the sound /올/
  • 㐚 (올) -- 吾(오) + 乙(을) = the sound /올/
  • 乯 (올) -- 乎(호) + 乙(을) = the sound /올/; seems it should be "홀," not "올"
  • 㐛 (울) -- 佑(우) + 乙(을) = the sound /울/
  • 㐕 (율) -- 由(유) + 乙(을) = the sound /율/
  • 㐠 (율) -- 乳(유) + 乙(을) = the sound /율/
  • 乽 (잘) -- 者(자) + 乙(을) = the sound /잘/
  • 㐉 (절) -- 丁(정) + 乙(을) = the sound /절/ ; exchange the "ㅇ" for "ㄹ"
  • 乼 (줄) -- 注(주) + 乙(을) = the sound /줄/
  • 乲 (찰) -- 次(차) + 乙(을) = the sound /찰/
  • 㐋 (톨) -- 土(토) + 乙(을) = the sound /톨/
  • 乤 (할) -- 下(하) + 乙(을) = the sound /할/
  • 乥 (홀) -- 乊(호) + 乙(을) = the sound /홀/