Tuesday, November 30, 2021

What does 맘마미아 mean?

ANSWER: Mamma Mia!


Does Korea have any dancing queens (댄싱퀸)?

ANSWER: Of course, it does.


What does 슈퍼 트루퍼 mean?

ANSWER: Super Trouper

슈퍼 트루퍼 조명이 비춰도 우울했지만 
오늘은 달라 당신이 와 있으니까 

어제 네게 전화했을 때 
너무 힘들고 지쳤었지 
내 생활은 의미도 없고 
공연도 하기 싫었었지
헌데 너 온다니 얼마나 기쁜지
갑자기 좋아졌어
오늘밤 공연은 아주 다른 무대 될 거야 

오늘밤 슈퍼 투루퍼 
태양처럼 밝은 조명 비추니 
나는 즐거워 최고라 느껴지니까 

언제나 슈퍼 트루퍼 
조명이 비춰도 우울했지만 
오늘은 달라 당신이 와 있으니까 

많은 친구 곁에 있어도 
사람들은 외로워 하네 
하지만 나는 그렇지 않아 
나에겐 당신 있으니까
가끔 그럴때가 서성댈 때가 있었어
허나 이젠 괜찮아 
오늘 밤 공연은 아주 다른 무대 될거야 

오늘 밤 슈퍼 투루퍼 태양처럼 밝은 조명 비추리 
나는 즐거워 최고라 느껴지니까 
언제나 슈퍼 투루퍼 조명이 비춰도 우울했지만 
오늘은 달라 당신이 와 있으니까 

당신 여기 도착했어 
나를 꼭 안아주면 아직 내가 살았음을 느낄 수 있어 
안아주면 오늘은 특별한 밤 될 거야

오늘 밤 슈퍼 투루퍼 태양처럼 밝은 조명 비추리 
나는 즐거워 최고라 느껴지니까 
언제나 슈퍼 투루퍼 조명이 비춰도 우울했지만 
오늘은 달라 당신이 와 있으니까 

슈퍼 투루퍼 조명이 비추면


Thursday, November 18, 2021

What does 乒乓兵 (병병병) literally mean?

 ANSWER: ping-pong (乒乓) soldier (兵)

핑퐁 (乒乓) is a Sino-Korean word that refers to the game "ping-pong," or table tennis, even though my Korean-English dictionary does not show it as a Sino-Korean word. Koreans also refer to the game as 탁구 (卓球). Both 핑 () and 퐁 () are sounds that are made when striking objects, similar to the sounds made when hitting ping-pong balls. They both can also be pronounced as "병," so 병병 (乒乓).

The Chinese character 兵 (병) means "soldier," so 병병병 (乒乓兵) or 핑퐁병 (乒乓兵) can literally translate as "ping-pong soldier." I am reminded of the character Forrest Gump in the movie "Forrest Gump."

From Dong-A's Prime Korean-English Dictionary

From Naver's Chinese Character Dictionary

Sunday, November 14, 2021

What does 부부읍읍 (阜阝邑阝) mean?

 ANSWER: the "hill" (阜) 부 (阝) [or] the "town" (邑) 읍 (阝)

The Chinese character (부), by itself, means "hill" (언덕), but it is also used as a radical (부수 部首), which means it is used to form and index other characters with meanings that are somehow related to "a hill." But when it is used as a radical, it is written as (부), as in the Chinese character (릉), which means "hill," "mound," or "tomb." In fact, it is more often used in its radical form than in its individual character form.

The Chinese character (읍) means "town," but it is also used as a radical, and its radical form is written as (읍), the same form in which the radical for (부) is written. So if the radical forms of (부) and (읍) are both written as , then how can you tell them apart?

Well, if is on the left side of a character, then it is the "hill" 阜 (부) radical, as in 陵 (릉), which means "hill," "mound," or "tomb," but if it is on the right side of the character, then it is the "town" 邑 (읍) radical, as in the character (도), which means "capital city." 

But I still have one question: Why is written on the right side of the character (구) instead of on the left side, given that 邱 (구) means "hill" (언덕) or "mound"? Does anyone know the reason? Anyway, since the is written on the right side of 邱 (구), the character is listed under the "town" radical (邑 읍) instead of under the "hill" radical (阜 부), even though the character itself means "hill." That seems a little strange, doesn't it?

From Naver's online dictionary

Monday, November 01, 2021

What is the English translation of 릴리 마렌?

 ANSWER: "Lili Marleen"

"Lili Marleen" is the name of a German love song that became popular during World War II. It has been translated into many languages, and here is a Korean version, sung by 이연실

릴리 마렌, by 이연실

병영 막사 앞에 서있는 등불은
오늘도 변함없이 불타오르는데
나 이제 홀로 그리움에
그 자리를 찾아왔네
음 ~ 릴리 마렌 음 ~ 릴리 마렌

우리의 그림자는 하나가 되어
밤안개 속으로 길게 비추이고
즐거운 그대 웃음에
모두 걸음을 멈추었지
음 ~ 릴리 마렌 음 ~ 릴리 마렌

우리를 지켜주던 그 가로등빛은
그대 오는 소리를 잘 알고 있었지
내겐 슬픔이 생겼어
누군가 그대와 함께 섰네
음 ~ 릴리 마렌 음 ~ 릴리 마렌

아득한 꿈처럼 그대 입술은
내 가슴속에서 떠나질 않는데
안개가 밀려오는 밤
누군가 그대와 함께 섰네
음 ~ 릴리 마렌 음 ~ 릴리 마렌

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

What does 우처 (愚妻) literally mean?

 ANSWER: stupid () wife ()

The Chinese character 愚 (우) means "foolish" or "stupid," and 妻 (처) means "wife," so 우처 (愚妻) literally means "stupid (愚) wife (妻)." The word was used to refer to one's wife in a demeaning way in front of others in an attempt to appear humble (겸사말). I don't know if Korean men still use the word, but I wonder how Korean wives these days would feel if they heard their husbands refer to them as "stupid"?

From Dong-A's Prime Korean-English Dictionary

Another word that was used to refer to one's wife under similar circumstances is 형처 (荊妻), which literally means "thorn (荊) wife (妻)" or "thorny-bush wife." It sounds like 형처 might be similar to an American man referring to his wife as "the old battle-axe."

From Dong-A's Prime Korean-English Dictionary

The following video lists twenty-four 4-character idioms that include the Chinese character (처), which again means "wife." One of the idioms is 사가망처 (徙家忘妻), which literally means "to move (徙) [one's] home (家) [but] forget (忘) [one's] wife (妻)." The idiom is used to refer to someone who is so forgetful that he even forgets his wife when the family moves to a new residence. 

Friday, October 22, 2021

How could "night rider" be translated into Korean?

 ANSWER: 승야자 (乘夜者)?

According to Merriam Webster, a "night rider" is "a member of a secret band who ride masked at night doing acts of violence for the purpose of punishing or terrorizing," as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) used to do during Reconstruction in the United States.

The Chinese character (승) means "to ride," (야) means "night," and (자) means "a person," so 승야자 (乘夜者) literally means "a riding (乘) the night (夜) person (者)," which can translate as "a person who rides the night" or "night rider."

There is no Korean word 승야자 (乘夜者), as far as I know, but Koreans do use the Sino-Korean word 승야 (乘夜) to mean "under the cover of night" or "under the cover of darkness." Since the pure Korean word for "night" is 밤, and for "to ride" is 타다, 승야 (乘夜) would translate into pure Korean as "밤을 타서." Also, the Korean expression 틈을 타다 literally means "to ride a crack or opening," but translates as "to seize an opportunity."

By the way, the word 승용차 (乘用車) literally means "a riding (乘) use (用) car (車)," which can translate as "a passenger car." And 승용마 (乘用馬) translates as "a horse used for riding," "a riding horse," or "a saddle horse."

From Dong-A's Prime Korean-English Dictionary

From Dong-A's Prime Korean-English Dictionary

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

How do you say "Earth, Wind, & Fire" in Korean?

 ANSWER: 어스, 윈드, 앤 파이어

Yes, I know. I don't like the translation either, so I'm changing it to 토풍화 (土風火).

Anyway, I like the following video of two young Koreans dancing to 구월 (九月), by 토풍화.

UPDATE: I guess I should have done a little more research. It seems that Koreans also refer to "Earth, Wind, & Fire" as 지풍화 (地風火), which is a good translation, so there is no need for my 토풍화 translation. Just forget it.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Why is 대화를 주고받는다 an awkward expression?

 ANSWER: Because 대화 by itself already implies 주고받는다. So, it would be better to simply say 대화한다.

The Sino-Korean word 대화 (對話) means "conversation" or "dialog," and 주고받다 is a pure Korean word that means "give and take" or "exchange." You do not "exchange a conversation"; you "have a conversation."

If you want to use the verb 주고받다 to refer to a conversation, then you should use an object noun similar to 의견 (意見), which means "an opinion," "an idea," or "a view." Then, the phrase 의견을 주고받는다 could translate as "exchange ideas or opinions."

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Is a 명당 (明堂) a great place to be buried?


From Dong-A's Prime Korean-English Dictionary

Apparently, according to oriental geomancy, the best place in which to be buried is in a place that looks like a woman's vagina, as the following map shows:

From "한자 오디세이"

The Chinese character that was used to represent a woman's vagina is (야). And the Chinese character for "a place where water gathers," or "a pond," is (지), suggesting that a vagina is similar to a pond. The character is an alternate form of (수), which means "water."

You can read more about 명당 in English HERE.

Saturday, October 09, 2021

Are too many strokes used when writing Hangeul consonants?

 ANSWER: Yes, for some of them. So I have redesigned those with 3 or more strokes into 2-stroke characters. But I like the Hangeul vowels the way they are, though I see no need to put the placeholder ㅇ in front of vowels. In other words, why not just write words like 아이, which means "child," as ㅏㅣ?

ㅏㅣ가 귀ㅕㅝ.
The kid is cute.

Friday, October 01, 2021

Is 보쌈 good or bad?

 ANSWER: It depends. If you are talking about the Korean dish 보쌈 or 보쌈김치, then it is good, but if you are talking about the old practice of kidnapping a young man, forcing him to sleep with your daughter, and then killing him to cover up the dirty deed, then it is bad.

The Chinese character (보) means 포대기, which is the kind of quilt that Korean mothers used to use and still use to carry their young babies around on their backs. 쌈 is the noun form of 싸다, which means "to wrap up" or "to bundle," so 보쌈 literally means "a quilt (보 褓) wrap (쌈)," which was apparently the way they used to transport the young men that were kidnapped.

In the past, if the daughter of an influential Korean family was fated, according to a fortuneteller, to serve two men [in bed], the family might kidnap a young man of no importance, force him to sleep with their daughter, and then kill him to hide the dirty deed. By doing that, the family eliminated one of the two men the daughter was fated to serve [in bed], leaving her available for a more suitable husband. In other words, the family did a 액땜 or 팔자땜, which in this case essentially means the family transferred their daughter's unfortunate fate to the man they killed, though his unfortunate fate was a violent death.

The word 보쌈 was also used to refer to a man kidnapping, in a similar fashion, a widow or a woman he wanted to take as his wife. Many times young widows wanted to be kidnapped instead of having to live alone without a man for the rest of their lives, so the women who were kidnapped might pretend to be asleep or might put up only half-hearted resistance while they were being carried away. 

The pure Korean word 업다 means "to carry on one's back," and 모르다 means "to not know," so the Korean idiom 업어 가도 모르다 literally means "to not know one is being carried away on someone's back." It refers to a woman who pretends to be asleep while she is being carried away because she secretly wants to be kidnapped.

Here is the example sentence for the idiom from a book entitled "우리말 숙어 1000가지." The English translation is mine.

점순이가 대문을 열어놓고 업어 가도 모르게 자고 있다.

Jeomsuni leaves the front gate open and is sleeping as if she wouldn't know she was being carried away.

NOTE: 점순이 is the name of the 17-year-old female character in Kim Yu-jeong's (김유정) 1936 short story "Camellia Flower" (동백꽃). An English translation of the story can be read HERE, though I don't really like the translation.



Friday, September 24, 2021

What does 무당 같다 mean?

 ANSWER: be like a fortuneteller

무당 is the Korean word for "a female shaman" or "spirit medium," but it can also be translated as "a fortuneteller." And since 같다 means "to be like," 무당 같다 can translate as "be like a fortuneteller."

꼴꼴 and 콸콸 are both used to refer to the sound of flowing water or liquid, but 꼴꼴 is used to refer to a "trickling" flow while 콸콸 is used to refer to a "gushing" flow.

The following is based on an old Korean story:

One day a mother overheard her teenage daughter peeing in the restroom, and it sounded as if the pee was gushing out of her. The mother was surprised because when she had overheard her daughter peeing before, it had always sounded like a trickle. When the daughter came out of the restroom, the mother confronted her.

Mother: "너 어떤 놈과 상관했지?" ("You've been with a guy, haven't you?")
Daughter: "어머니는 꼭 무당 같네." (Wow! Mom, you are just like a fortuneteller.")
From Dong-A's Prime Korean-English Dictionary

From Dong-A's Prime Korean-English Dictionary

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

What does 행림 (杏林) literally mean?

 ANSWER: apricot (杏) grove (林)

The Sino-Korean word 행림 (杏林) is a poetic and interesting way to refer to "physicians," but it literally means "apricot (杏) grove or forest (林)." It comes from a story of a famous Chinese doctor who only asked that his patients pay him for his services by planting apricot trees. Patients treated for serious illnesses would plant five trees while those treated for minor illnesses would plant only one. You can read more about the doctor HERE.

From Dong-A's Prime Korean-English Dictonary

Saturday, September 18, 2021

What does the 대 in 대머리 mean?


The Korean word for "head" is 머리, and the Korean word for "bald head" is 대머리, so does the 대 is 대머리 mean "bald"?

I have read HERE that 대 might be a dialectical word for 민둥, which means "bare" or "bald," but I wonder if it might instead have come from the Chinese character for "big," which is 大 (대).

As men get older, many gradually go bald to some extent. That might have looked to some Koreans as if the men's heads (머리) were growing bigger (대 大) while their hair stayed the same size. And that might have led some Koreans to jokingly refer to such men as "big heads" (대머리).

So could it be that the word 대머리 started out as a joke?

From Dong-A's Prime Korean-English Dictionary

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Do Koreans enjoy line dancing? And where is Amarillo?

ANSWER: Yes, apparently some Koreans do enjoy line dancing. And Amarillo is in the Texas panhandle.


Can 何 (하) mean "how"?

 ANSWER: Yes, the Chinese character 何 (하) can mean "how," but it can also mean "who," what," "where," "when," and "why," which is why Koreans refer to journalism's "6 Ws' rule," or "5 Ws and 1 H rule," as 육하원칙 (六何原則), which literally translates as "the six (六) 'Ha's' (何) principle or rule (原則)".