Tuesday, December 28, 2004

What does 오줌 가리다 mean?

I have been studying Korean for a long time, but there are still some fairly simple expressions that I have either overlooked or forgotten. 오줌을 가리다 seems to be one of them.

This morning I must have been bored because I decided I wanted to make a dictionary of the 2,000 most frequently used words in Korean. Actually, it would not be that difficult since I already have a book that lists them, but my philosophy is, "Don't retype something if you don't have to." Anyway, with that spiritually enlightening philosophy in mind, I did a Google search, hoping to find my list on the Internet. I did not find it, but I found a list of "words every Korean middle school student should know." I link to the list because I think they are also words that every foreign student of Korean should know. By the way, if you go to the site, you can choose among lists for middle school, high school, and college students.

I was looking through the middle-school level word list when I decided to click on the verb, 가리다, which means "to pick out" or "to discriminate (between)." I knew the general meaning of the word, but I wanted to look at some of the other ways in which it is used. Among the example sentences listed, I noticed the sentence 아이가 오줌을 가리다, which means, "A child knows how to go to the toilet by him- or herself."

I was surprised that this expression seemed new to me. I thought I must have surely learned the word for "potty-trained" sometime over the past twenty-nine years, but I just could not remember it. My revelation concerning the Korean word for "potty-trained" made me wonder how many other Korean words I have learned, then forgotten, relearned, and then forgotten, again. Over the past twenty-nine years, I am sure I have gone through the Korean dictionary at least two or three times, but judging from my limited vocabulary, no one would ever suspect it.

Since I am talking about 오줌, it might be helpful for some to mentioned the difference between 오줌을 누다 and 오줌을 싸다. The difference has to do with "control." One uses 누다 when one is in control of one's peeing, and uses 싸다 when one is not. In other words, if you want to tell someone you took a pee, you should say 오줌을 누었다, not 오줌을 쌌다. If you say 오줌을 쌌다, the person you are speaking to may make a face and then look at your pants to see if they are wet. The difference in meaning between 누다 and 싸다 also applies to "number two."

Here are a few other 오줌 related words:

  • 오줌싸개 a bed wetter
  • 오줌을 지리다 be incontinent; lose control of one's bodily functions
  • 오줌을 참다 hold one's water
  • 오줌이 마렵다 have an urge to urinate
  • 오줌통 the bladder

I was going to add 오줌버캐 to the list, but decided that most of us can probably go through our entire lives without the topic of "urine incrustations" coming up in conversation with our Korean friends.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks very much for posting this. The link to important words is especially helpful. ^^


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