Saturday, December 31, 2005

Who are the Brothers 반?

Once upon a time, there were three brothers of the family 반. One was called 절반 반(), one was called 돌이킬 반(), and the other was called 옮길 반(). In English 절반 means “half”; 돌이킬 can mean either “turn around,” “restore,” “reflect on,” or “reconsider”; and 옮길 means “move.” As you can see, even though they were brothers, they looked nothing alike. 절반 반() stood tall and straight while 돌이킬 반() always seemed to be bent over and looking over his shoulder. 옮길 반() is more difficult to describe, but he was often ill-tempered and always carried a "ship" on his shoulder. Even though the three brothers did not look alike, their children did have certain features of their fathers.

Here are the four eldest children of 절반 반() with their Korean names and English meanings:
  • - 짝 one of a pair
  • – 버릴 throw away
  • – 두둑 a levee
  • – 줄 thread
Here are the three eldest children of 돌이킬 반() with their Korean names and English meanings:
  • – 밥 cooked rice
  • – 배반할 betray
  • – 돌아올 return
And here are the three eldest children of 옮길 반() with their Korean names and English meanings:
  • – 소반 a small dining table
  • – 옮길 move (named after his father)
  • – 쟁반 tray
The brothers 반 also had five ugly sisters who never married nor had any children. Here they are with their Korean names and English meanings:
  • – 나눌 divide
  • – 더위잡을 grasp
  • – 얼룩 spot; stain
  • – 나눌 divide (For some reason, named after her sister.)
  • – 광물 이름 name of minerals (e.g. 명반, 녹반, 백반)
Finally, the brothers 반 had a step brother, whose real father’s family name was 번. Their step brother’s name was 차례, which means “order.” Here is what 차례 번 looked like:
For some reason, 차례 never adopted the 반 family name; however, a few of his children did. Here are the names and English meanings of the children of 차례 who adopted the 반 family name:
  • – 뜨물 water from the first washing of rice
  • – 강 이름 name of a river
  • – 서릴 be tangled
On this new year, all the members of the 반 family would like to wish everyone a very happy and prosperous 2006.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

How's the weather?

On the Internet today, I saw a reference to a discussion group where the topic of discussion was "the weather." At first, I had the image of a bunch of old farmers sitting around talking about rain, drought, and frost, and thought, "Wow, how boring," but then I started thinking about all the different aspects of weather and realized that weather is a natural phenomenon that is really quiet amazing and complex. Maybe, if I lived on a mountain top staring out at the horizon and the land below, I might start waking up each morning wondering what nature had in store for me.

Here is a list of terminology used to talk about just "wind":

바람 (wind)

  • 골바람 (곡풍) valley wind
  • 국지바람 (국지풍) local winds
  • 높새바람 (북동풍) a northeast wind (used by fishermen
  • 바람 wind
  • 산바람 (산풍) mountain wind
  • 샛바람 an easterly wind (used my fishermen)
  • 하늬바람 northerly wind
  • 회오리바람 whirlwind, whirls

풍 (wind)

  • 강풍경보 strong wind warning
  • 강풍주의보 strong wind advisory
  • 경도풍 gradient wind
  • 계절풍 monsoon
  • 곡풍 (골바람) valley wind
  • 남동계절풍 southeast monsoon
  • 남동무역풍 southeast trades
  • 돌풍 gust
  • 등풍속선isotach; isokinetic
  • 등풍향선 isogon
  • 로빈슨컵풍속계 Robinson's cup anemometer
  • 무역풍 trade winds
  • 무풍대 calm zone
  • 보퍼트풍력계급 Beaufort wind scale
  • 북동무역풍 northeast trades
  • 북서계절풍 northwest monsoons
  • 산곡풍 mountain and valley winds
  • 산풍 (산바람) mountain winds
  • 선평풍 cyclostrophic wind
  • 열대계절풍 tropical monsoon
  • 열대무풍대 tropical calm belt
  • 육풍 land breeze
  • 일평균풍속 daily mean wind speed
  • 적도무풍대 equatorial calm belt
  • 지균풍 geostrophic wind
  • 지상풍 surface wind
  • 최다풍향 most frequent wind direction
  • 최대순간풍향 - 풍속 maximum instantaneous wind direction and speek
  • 최대풍향 - 풍속 maximum wind direction and speed
  • 탁월풍 prevailing wind
  • 태양풍 solar winds
  • 태풍 typhoon
  • 태풍강도지수 typhoon intensity index
  • 태풍경로 typhoon track
  • 태풍경보 typhoon warning
  • 태풍눈 eye of a typhoon
  • 태풍주의보 typhoon advisory
  • 편동풍 easterlies
  • 편동풍대 easterly belt
  • 편서풍 westerlies
  • 편서풍대 westerly belt
  • 편서풍파 westerly wave
  • 폭풍일수 number of days with a storm
  • 풍랑경보 wind & wave warning
  • 풍랑주의보 wind & wave advisory
  • 풍상측 windward side
  • 풍속 wind speed
  • 풍압 wind pressure
  • 풍정 wind run
  • 풍하측 leeward side
  • 풍향 wind direction
  • 풍향풍속게 anemovane (a device for measuring wind direction & speed)
  • 해륙풍 land & sea breeze
  • 해풍 sea breeze
For more weather terminology you can go here. For a description of terms frequently heard on weather forecasts, you can go here.

Here is a song by 조용필 entitled, "바람의 노래," but the song does not seem to have much, if anything, to do with "wind."

살면서 듣게될까
언젠가는 바람의 노래를
세월가면 그때는 알게될까

Will I live to hear it?
The song of the wind.
Will I know it if the time comes?

In the above lyrics, does the second verse go will the first verse or the third verse? In other words, is the song saying, "살면서 언젠가는 바람의 노래를 듣게 될까?" or is it saying, "세월가면 언젠가는 바람의 노래를 그때는 알게 될까?" I tend to think it is the first sentence since the second sentence would have two topics (i.e. 언젠가 and 그때), which is awkward. Actually, here is how I would write the lyrics:
살면서 언젠가 듣게될까
(유혹하는) 바람의 노래를
세월가면 그때는 알게될까

In my lyrics, the second verse can go with either the first or the third, but, of course, my lyrics may not match up with the music.

What's so special about 가마솥밥?

Here is a cartoon that I liked mainly for the art work.

빨간 자전거.

Is 밝다 an adjective or a verb?

밝다 is used as both an adjective and a verb. When it is used as a adjective, it means"light" or "bright," but when it is used as a verb, it means "dawn" or "break." Consider these two examples:
  1. 날이 밝다.
    The day is bright.
  2. 날이 밝는다.
    The day dawns [breaks].

When I tried doing a Google search on "날이 밝다," I found that many Koreans are using it to mean "dawn," which is a misuse of the word since "dawn" should be "날이 밝는다." In other words, some Koreans do not seem to understand the difference between the verb 밝다 and the adjective 밝다.

As one might expect, the adjective 밝다 is used in more situations than the verb 밝다. For example, when I did a Google search on "밝는다," which would be referring to the verb 밝다, I found only a limited number of subjects used with it. They were essentially 날이 밝는다 (the day dawns), 아침이 밝는다 (the morning breaks), and 해가 밝는다 (a new year dawns).

By the way, 맑다 is an adjective with meanings that include, "clear," "clean," "fair," "fresh," and "pure." It has no verb function, which means that 맑다 should not be used in the form of "맑는다." Nevertheless, if you do a Google search on "맑는다," you will find that many Koreans are mistakenly using 맑다 as a verb.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

What does 볼멘소리 mean?

볼멘소리 means "sullen [sulky] words" or "grouchy words."

I do not remember ever having seen or heard the word, 볼멘소리, until I read it in this article. Here is the relevant part of the article, which, by the way, has at least one grammatical problem:
통일부는 9일에는 근로자 격려차 개성공단을 참관한 정 장관의 남북출입사무소(경기도 파주시) 현지 기자회견 구상을 밝혔다가 반발을 샀다. 기자들 사이에서는 "인권대회 취재를 막거나 관심을 돌리려는 것 아니냐"는 볼멘소리까지 나왔다.

On the 9th, the Ministry of Unification received a backlash. While [an official] was explaining plans for a press conference at the North-South Entry Point Office in Paju, Gyeonggi Province with Minister Jeong, who had visited the Gaeseong Complex to give a pep talk to workers there, someone among the group of reporters asked in a sullen tone, "Were you trying to block coverage of the civil rights conference or divert attention from it?"

볼멘소리 is a compound word created from the pure-Korean verb 볼메다, which means "have an angry attitude" (성난 태도가 있다), and 소리, which means "noise." The current Korean definition of the word is "성이 나서 퉁명스럽게 하는 말투," but the original meaning of the word was "볼이 메어질 정도로 부어서 하는 소리," which seems to mean, "an angry noise made after filling up one's cheeks (with air)." Actually, I am only assuming that 볼이 메어지다 means "fill one's cheeks with air." If it does, then that would imply 볼멘소리 is "a statement or question 'blurted out' in an angry tone."

By the way, the first sentence from the Korean article is grammatically wrong because it has two topics (i.e. 통일부 and 9일에), which is a no-no. A sentence should have only one topic, so the "는" in 9일에는 should be dropped.

Would plastic surgery help me get a girlfriend?

Here is a cartoon I saw today that I thought was kind of funny.

Can you recommend any good books?

This past Sunday I went to the Kyobo Book store here in Incheon just to browse, but ended up spending 48,000 won on three books. I am not sure if I got my money's worth on two of the books, but I am very happy with the following book:

남영신의 한국어용법핸드북

The book is basically a small usage dictionary since it talks about the usage or misusage of 600 fairly common Korean words, and it does it with lots of examples. I recommend the book for advanced learners.

If you would like to read a summary of the book, you can go to the site that I linked to above, or you can read it here since I copied it down below. I copied it because it has some good examples from the book and also because it lists the table of contents, which is a list of the 600 words talked about in the book:


소리나 의미가 비슷한 말이라도 용법이 같지 않은 낱말들이 많이 있다. '웃기다'와 '우습다', '파문'과 '파장', '안'과 '속', '주최'와 '주관', '구별'과 '구분', '어른답다'와 '어른스럽다', '원리'와 '원칙', '시늉'과 '흉내’'는 용법이 전혀 다른 말이다.<남영신의 한국어 용법 핸드북>은 틀리게 쓰거나 구별해서 써야 할 기본 단어 600여 개를 용법 중심으로 정리해 놓은 용법어 사전이다. 책상 위에 놓아두고 필요할 때마다 펼쳐 용법을 익힐 수 있도록, 실용적인 핸드북 형식으로 기획되었다.일상적인 대화나 신문.방송 매체 등지에서 흔히 잘못 쓰고 있는 어휘, 어울리지 않는 서술어, 높임말, 일본식 한자어의 오용 사례, 조사 '은, 는, 이, 가'부터 문장 부호까지 기본적인 한국어의 모든 용법을 망라했다. '밥은 짓고, 죽은 쑤고, 떡은 빚는다'처럼 주어에 따라 달리 써야 하는 서술어들, '훔치다, 닦다, 씻다, 빨다'와 '아름답다, 곱다, 예쁘다’'등의 섬세한 차이, 형용사와 동사를 헷갈려 쓰는 예 등이 제시되어 있다.

책 속에서

피로 회복 / 상처 회복 : '회복'의 목적물은 되찾을 가치가 있는 것이다. 따라서 피로나 상처가 회복의 대상이 될 수 없다.웃기다 / 우습다 : '웃기다'는 '웃게 하다'의 뜻을 가진 타동사이다. "이혁재의 얼굴이 웃기다.", "울 아버지는 스타벅스를 자꾸 스타복싱이라 하는데, 참 웃기다."는 웃기다라는 형용사를 동사로 잘못 알고 쓴 경우이다. '우습다'로 바꿔 써야 한다.유명세를 타다 : 유명세의 한자어는 유명세(有名稅)이다. 따라서 "청남대는 계절에 따라 볼거리가 풍부하여 명실상부한 국민관광지로서 유명세를 타고 있다."에서는 "유명세를 치르고 있다."로 써야 한다.파장 / 파문 : '파장'은 '파문'의 길이를 나타낸다. "대통령은 한반도 주변 정세에 미묘한 파장을 던진다는 것을 알고 대처했다."에서는 파장을 파문으로 바꿔야 한다.알겠습니다 / 알았습니다 : '알겠습니다'는 '알다'에 추측을 뜻하는 선어말어미 '-겠'을 붙인 것이다. 따라서 '알겠습니다'는 추측의 의미를 가진다. "이 보고서를 내일까지끝내."의 대답에는 '알겠습니다'가 아니라 '알았습니다'를 써야 한다.경우 / 경위 : 경우는 놓여 있는 형편이나 사정을 뜻하고, '경위'는 직물의 날과 씨를 이르는 말이다. "경우에 어긋나는 행동", "경우가 바른 사람" 등은 모두 경위로 써야 한다.

저자 소개

남영신 - 서울대학교 법과대학을 졸업했다. 사단법인 국어정보학회 이사(92~93년)을 역임했고, 2005년 현재 문화관광부 우리 말글 바로쓰기 추진 위원, 국어문화운동본부 회장, 한국문장사 협회 상임 고문으로 활동 중이다.지은 책으로 <우리말 분류 사전1>, <우리말 분류 사전2>, <우리말 분류 사전3>, <하 머리곰 비취오시라>, <우리말 분류 대사전>, <국어 용례 사전>, <국어 사전>, <국어 천년의 실패와 성공>, <지역패권주의 한국>, <지역패권주의 연구>, <문장 비평>, <4주간의> 등이 있다.


가능성/개연성/확률/공산, 강추위/강샘/강다짐/깡장, 개울/시내/내/강, 개회/개의, 걸립/추렴/두레, 경우/경위, 곤욕/곤혹, 과거/미래/장래/앞날, 관계/관련, 구별/구분, 굿/축제, 글/글자/글씨, 금/줄/선(線), 길/도로, 꽃, 날씨, 눈/눈꼴/눈총/눈치/눈물, 다리/사다리/교량, 단념/체념, 당(當)/본(本)/이, 본인/나/저/우리/저희, 도랑/수채/개천, 돛/닻/덫, 등/배, 땅/흙/토지, 떡/편/웃기, 떼/억지/고집, 마음/가슴, 말/말씀, 말밥/구설/구설수, 말씨/솜씨/맵시, 맛/미감, 매무시/매무새/차림/차림새, 머리/머리통, 모양/모양새/모습, 목/멱/덜미, 물, 바람, 발/발씨, 밥/진지/식사, 벗/동무/친구, 보람/표/찌/성금, 복구/복원/회복, 부탁/당부, 비, 빛/색(色)/광(光), 사람/인간/인물/인재, 사용/활용/이용, 새끼, 샘/우물, 소리/큰소리/아니리, 손/객/나그네, 손/손끝, 수고/애/고생, 슬기/지혜/앎/지식, 시늉/흉내/입내, 신/신명/신바람, 심문/신문, 십팔번/애창곡/더늠, 안/속, 안녕, 옆/곁, 욕, 용의/뜻/생각, 용의자/피의자/혐의자, 원리/원칙, 유감, 으뜸/버금, 의의/의미, 일/작업/과업/사무/노무, 입장/처지, 입증/거증/반증/방증, 잔주/주사/주정, 장만/마련, 접견/인견, 주최/주관, 지양/지향, 질문/자문, 체/채/-째, 초토/초토화, 트집/빌미/탓, 파문/파동/파장, 표지/표시, 한배/가락, 혈세/유명세, 혼자/홀로/홀몸/홑몸, 흥정/우수리/우수, 힘

가다/오다, 가르다/째다/쪼개다/빠개다, 가지다/갖다, 감사하다/고맙다, 감추다/숨기다, 갑갑하다/답답하다, 같다/같은 경우, 거리끼다/거치다/걸리다, 겪다/치르다, 굵다/잘다/가늘다/두껍다/얇다/두텁다, 궂다/나쁘다, 그렇다/뭐하다/거시기하다, 기쁘다/즐겁다/슬프다/괴롭다, 끌다/이끌다, 나누다/노느다/도르다, 놀다/쉬다/장난하다, 다르다/틀리다, 다지다/다짐/다짐기, 닥치다/부닥치다/부딪치다/부딪히다/맞닥치다, 닫다/달리다/뛰다/튀다, 닫다/지치다/닫치다/닫히다, 달리다/부치다/겹다, 담다/담그다/담기다, 되다, 들르다/들리다, 때리다/패다/갈기다/두들기다/치다, 마라/말라/마, 맞다/알맞다/걸맞다/맞추다/맞히다, 멋/멋대로/멋쩍다, 멎다/멈추다/그치다, 모르다/알다, 무르다/반품하다, 무섭다/두렵다/호섭다, 무지하다/무식하다, 묶다/매다/메다, 물다/갚다/변상하다, 미치다/끼치다, 배다/스미다, 버리다, 벌이다/벌리다/떠벌리다/떠벌이다/떠버리, 베다/썰다/켜다/패다/깎다/자르다/끊다, 보다, 부리다/피우다, 불나다/불붙다/불타다, 붙다/붙이다/부치다, 빠르다/이르다/늦다/느리다, 살다, 새기다/삭이다, 쌓다/싸다/꾸리다, 아름답다/예쁘다/곱다, 아쉽다/서운하다/섭섭하다/안타깝다, 알았습니다/알겠습니다, 앙상하다/엉성하다, 얕다/옅다, 얇다/엷다, 얻다, 옳다/바르다/맞다, 웃기다/우습다, 자다/깨다, 잠그다/잠기다, 조성하다/조장하다, 졸이다/조리다, 좇다/쫓다, 주다/받다, 주요하다/중요하다 죽다, 지니다/간직하다/간수하다/건사하다, 지다, 지지다/부치다/볶다/덖다, 차리다, 쳐다보다/바라보다, 추다/추키다/치키다, 치다/치이다/치우다, 크다/작다/많다/적다, 틀다/켜다/돌리다/꼬다, 필요하다/요하다, 하다, 훔치다/닦다/씻다/빨다

가까스로/겨우/애오라지/간신히, 관해서/대해서, 너무/매우/몹시/아주/무척/퍽/잔뜩, 드디어/마침내/끝내/이윽고/결국/급기야, 마구/함부로, 마침/마치, 문득/갑자기/난데없이/뜬금없이, 반드시/꼭/기필코/기어이/필히, 반하여/비하여/반면에, 부디/제발/바라건대/아무쪼록, 새/새로운, 셋/서/석, 손수/몸소/친히/스스로/저절로, 시나브로/야금야금, 아니/안/않-, 아직/여태/이미/벌써, 애먼/애매하다, 어렵사리/쉽사리, 일껏/내나, 절대/결단코, 하나/한

-냐/-니, -답다/-스럽다, -대/-데, 대로/데로, -도록/-게/-게끔, 라고/고/-라고, 로서/로써/로, 민-/맨-/알-, 씨/님/미스터/미스, 와/과/및/그리고, 으로/-므로, 은/는/이/가, -화하다/-화되다/-화시키다

가운뎃점/쌍점/빗금, 묶음표/소괄호/대괄호, 쉼표/반점, 작은따옴표/낫표, 줄표/붙임표/물결표, 큰따옴표/겹낫표

Monday, December 12, 2005

Difference between 그를 만나다 & 그와 만나다?

This morning I came across the following sentence and started wondering about the verb 만나다:
한국 친구와 자주 만나서 이야기하다 보면 잘하게 될 거야.
If you and your Korean friends frequently meet and talk, you will get good (at Korean).

만나다 (to meet) can be used as a transitive verb and as an intransitive verb. If we say 친구를 만난다 (I meet my friend), we are using "meet" as a transitive verb. If we say 친구와 만난다 (My friend and I meet), we are using "meet" as an intransitive verb.

I think there are probably good reasons for distinguishing between the transitive "meet" and the intransitive "meet," but I am not sure what they are, and I am not in a very contemplative mood right now. I just wanted to make note of the topic for possible discussion or for a time when my mind is more willing to think about it. If anyone has any ideas on the usage of 만나다, please post them in the comments section of this post. For example, if it were a chance meeting, as opposed to a planned meeting, would it make a difference which verb was used?

Here is a link to the Yahoo! dictionary definition of 만나다, where there are many example sentences.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

What's wrong with this title: "새신랑 박찬호"?

MBC News has done a report entitled, "'새신랑' 박찬호," which translates as "Bak Chan-ho, the New, New Husband."

신랑(新郞) means "bridegroom," "groom," or "newlywed husband," so it is redundant to add 새 (new) to the word. It becomes even more obvious if you consider the Chinese characters for 신랑:
  • (신) new
  • (랑) man; husband

According to the Chinese characters, 신랑 already means "new husband."

Here are a couple of "by the ways:"

First, 신부(新婦) means "new wife," so it would be equally redundant to add 새 to it.

Second, traditionally in Korea, a couple gets married in the home or village of the wife's parents, where they spend three days. After three days they travel to the home of the husband's parents. This trip is called 신행(新行), which means "new journey." On the journey the husband rides on a horse, and the wife rides in palanquin, called a 꽃가마 (flower palanquin). Here is a link to a drawing that depicts a "new journey."

What's does 남사당(男寺黨) mean?

남사당(男寺黨) is "an itinerate male entertainer," and a 남사당패(男寺黨牌) is "a troupe of itinerate male entertainers." Here is a drawing of a 남사당패 in action. Notice in the drawing that three 남사당 are doing a double (triple?) 무동서기. I talked about 무동 서다 here.

Here are the Chinese characters for 남사당:
  • (남) a man
  • (사) a Buddhist temple; (시) a eunuch
  • (당) a group

Looking at the Chinese characters, the literal meaning of 남사당 is "a male Buddhist temple group." Does that make sense? And, if the 사 was supposed to mean "eunuch," then the literal meaning would be "male eunuch group," which makes a little more sense, if you can accept that removing a guy's gonads makes sense. However, 사 can also mean "village," so maybe 남사당 originally meant "male village group"?

Another strange thing about 남사당 is that the 당() in 남사당 means "group," which means the word should mean "a group of itinerant male entertainers," instead of just "one entertainer." If that were the case, then it should be redundant to add 패() to the word since 패 also means "group."

While reading about 남사당, I learned the word 땅재주, which means "a somersault," "a handspring," or "a tumble." 땅재주 is a compound word. 땅 means "ground" and 재주 means "talent." Also, 모로 땅재주 is "a cartwheel." 모로 means "sideways."

Friday, December 09, 2005

What does 만지작거리다 mean?

만지다 means "to touch" or "to feel," but 만지작거리다 means "to finger with," "to fiddle with," "to fumble with," "to tinker with," and "to paw."

I came across the word while looking at the following Chinese character:

Here is how the character is described in Naver's Chinese character dictionary:

王(왕☞玉)과 이외의 글자 공(양손)의 합자(合字). 손에 구슬을 가지고 만지작 거린다는 뜻

Notice that the description uses 만지작거리다 to say the character represents "a hand holding and fingering gems (or beads)."

What does 무동(舞童) mean?

무동(舞童) literally means "dancing child" and refers to boys that used to dance and sing at banquets and celebrations in old Korea. It also refers to the children that sometimes sit and dance on the shoulders of the gong player in a folk band. The only reason I mention the word is that there are two idioms that use it:
  • 무동을 서다
    stand on a person's shoulders
  • 무동을 타다
    sit on a person's shoulders

The literal meanings of the two idioms are "stand on a dancing child" and "ride a dancing child," which are confusing because I thought it was the dancing child who was doing the standing and the riding?

Here is a drawing of three men doing 무동서기.

What's the difference between 합죽선 & 태극선

A 합죽선(合竹扇) is a "folding fan," and a 택극선(太極扇) is a regular fan with a 태극 symbol on it. Here are the Chinese characters for a 합죽선:
  • 合(합) join; combine
  • 竹(죽) bamboo
  • 扇(선) fan

Instead of linking to boring photos of the fans, how about these nice drawings?

I think THIS is a great little site, not only because of the beautiful drawings, but also because of the culture it teaches.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

What's a 김치 쭈그리고 앉은 자세?

When I first came to Korea in the navy in 1977, it was very common to see Koreans squatting on the streets while waiting for buses or just chatting with friends. Since there were no places to sit and rather than stand, they just squatted. Among the US military here in Korea, it was commonly referred to as "the kimchi squat," which is not really a politically correct term. And, of course, Koreans do not refer to their squatting posture that way.

Anyway, I was trying to think of a way to remember the word 쭈그리다, and "kimchi squat" came to mind. 쭈그리다 means "squat," "crouch," or "stoop." I am confused, however, because, according to my dictionary, 웅크리다, also means "squat." I do not know what the difference is between the two Korean words. Actually, I am not even sure of the difference between the English words "squat" and "crouch."

Anyway, both 쭈그리다 and 웅크리다 can be used with 앉다 (to sit) to form the phrases 쭈그리고 앉다 and 웅크리고 앉다. Therefore, I do not know if "kimchi squat" should be translated as 쭈그리고 앉은 자세 or 웅크리고 앉은 자세?

By the way, the present generation of Koreans do not squat nearly as much as their parents do or did. For example, you hardly ever seen young Koreans squatting at a bus stop while waiting for a bus.

What does 추파를 던지다 mean?

Today, I came across the following expression:
가까이선 아양, 멀리서는 추파 던지는 년이다.
A woman who flirts when up close and gives amorous glances when far away.
The above sentence is a way of referring to "a loose woman." (년 is a contemptuous way to refer to a woman. You should probably avoid using it.)

추파(秋波) literally means "autumn wave," which I think is referring the fields of grain stalks rippling in an autumn breeze. However, I do not know how "throwing autumn waves" (추파를 던지다) came to mean "throwing amorous glances"?

Heard any good Korean expressions lately?

Koreans have a way of saying things sometimes that make me think, "Wow, I like that expression." Some of the expressions may seem plain to Koreans, but to me they have a certain elegance. Here is one expression that I found elegant in a recent letter from a Korean friend:

살아온 세월만큼 아는 것이 인생인데.

  1. Life is what we learn along the way.
  2. Life is learning from our years of living.
  3. Life is what we know from our years of living.
I think the Korean can be translated in both the ways I did it above. In my friend's case, I think she was referring to the second translation.

Update: I have thought about it and think that Sentence 3 is the most accurate translation of the Korean.

Monday, December 05, 2005

What does 딴따라 mean?

딴따라 is a disparaging name for "entertainer" (연예인).

I mention this word because 딴따라 seems very similar in form to 짠짜라, which I have talked about here. I am curious to know if one evolved from the other or if one is a dialect of the other?

By the way, I have a book that lists these 딴따라 related student slang:
  • 딴따라 a band (그룹 사운드)
  • 딴따라 양성소 an Arts college (예술대학)
  • 딴따라패 a singer

I do not speak Japanese, but there is something about the word 딴따라 that makes me think it has Japanese origin. It just does not sound Korean-like to me.

Update: Concerning 딴따라패, I think the is referring to "a name plate" or "a nametag," which means 딴따라패 could literally be translated as "someone with the title of 'singer.'"

Sunday, December 04, 2005

What does 일반상식(一般常識) mean?

Today, I was reading through the online version of "The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy" and thinking how great it would be if there were an online "Dictionary of Korean Cultural Literacy." Yes, there are good Korean language encyclopedias online, but those are encyclopedias, which means they cover way too much. The idea of a dictionary of cultural literary is that it focuses only on the general things that a culturally literate person should know, excluding the things that only experts in a particular field would know. In other words, a dictionary of cultural literacy is meant to give us the background information we need to function successfully as educated members of a society.

One of the reasons that Korean is so difficult for non-Koreans is that non-Koreans do not have the Korean cultural background information that Koreans do. A non-Korean might know just as much Korean vocabulary as a Korean fourth-grader, but the Korean forth-grader would probably have higher reading comprehension because he or she would have cultural background information the non-Korean does not have. For example, the non-Korean may know that "Chusok" is a Korean holiday, but the Korean forth-grader would know about the food, the games, and the rituals that occur on the holiday because he or she would have already experienced them. Therefore, if the non-Korean and the Korean forth-grader were reading a story about "Chusok," or even a story that refers to a Chusok ritual, the forth-grader would probably have higher reading comprehension than the non-Korean.

Koreans understand the concept of "cultural literacy" because they teach a subject in school called 일반상식(一般常識), which I usually translate as "general knowledge." Anyway, today I decided to search on the word, 일반상식, to see it there might possibly be a Korean Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. I found a couple of sites that are kind of interesting, but they are incomplete, kind of rough, and not really what I was hoping for; nevertheless, I am glad I found them.

How would you score on these tests?

  1. Test 1
  2. Test 2
  3. Test 3
  4. Test 4
  5. Test 5
  6. Test 6
  7. Test 7
  8. Test 8

By the way, you would know the answer to the first question on Test 3 if you had paid attention to my blog entry here.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

What does 부어라 마셔라 mean?

부어라 마셔라 literally means "Pour! Drink!" The expression seems to be the Korean version of "Eat, drink, and be merry," which describes pretty well a typical Korean drinking party where the alcohol seems to flow like water. Here is an example sentence from my dictionary:
부어라 마셔라의 큰소란을 피우다.
have a wild party; raise the roof at a party; carouse

Here are a few sentences using the expression that I found through Google:
  • 최근엔 독한 술을 부어라 마셔라 하는 ‘술 망년회’보다 그동안 고마웠던 직장상사나부하직원, 직장동료와 정을 나누며 지난 시간을 돌아보는 독특한 망년회를 하는 직장인이 늘어나고 있다고 한다.
  • 부어라 마셔라 이제는 그만. K사의 3년차 회사원 임영근씨(31)는 자신의 주량이 소주 반병이라고 생각한다. 그러나 자신의 주량 이내에서 술자리를 끝내는 경우는 별로 없다.
  • 부어라 마셔라! 그럼 당신의 간은. 백용한. 송년모임 잦은 때 알코올성 간질환 요주의-‘폭탄주’등 섞어 마시면 위험 송년회의 계절이 왔다.
  • 경기침체에 따라 ‘부어라 마셔라’ 하는 분위기보다 몸에 좋은 술을 찾는 사람도 늘어나고 있다. 양주 업계와 국내 전통주 업계도 송년을 맞아 다양한 종류의 술을 판매하고 있다.

By the way, I noticed the expression while I was trying to figure out the construction of the word 퍼붓다, which means the following:

  1. pour into [on / over]; dash over
  2. heap abuses upon; rain on
  3. (비가) pour down; (눈이) fall thick and fast

The 퍼 part of 퍼붓다 comes from 푸다, which means to "draw water" or "scoop up (soup)." The 붓다 part means "pour." That means that 퍼붓다 literally means "scoop up and pour." Here are a couple of other verbs that use 푸다 to add a "scoop up" meaning to them.

  • 퍼내다
    bail out (water); pump out water
  • 퍼먹다
    dip [scoop / ladle] and eat; shovel food in one's mouth

Friday, December 02, 2005

What kind of bird is a 추임새?

A 추임새 is not a bird; it is an exclamation shouted by the drummer (북잡이) in a 판소리 to stir up excitement in the audience. When the singer of the 판소리 pauses at the end of a stanza, the drummer might say something such as, 좋다, 좋지, 그렇지, 잘한다, 얼씨구, 허이, 아먼, 어디, 으이, or 흥 to encourage the singer and to stir up excitement in the audience.

I mention this because I read here that "짠짜라," which is a song that I discussed here, was once a kind of 추임새, shouted by members of the brass section of a band during certain segments of the band's performance. The same article says 짠짜라 is used today to refer to the kind of music once played by itinerant bands that used to travel around Korea about a hundred years ago.

Also, I noticed the word 불량 감자 in the 짠짜라 music video. It was written on the sign hanging on the neck of the man who got on the bus with a box of potatoes. I am still trying to pin down the exact slang meaning of the word, but the original meaning of 불량감자 is "potatoes damaged during harvert" or "potatoes where the eyes have been allowed to sprout."

At first, I thought 불량감자 was just an indirect way to refer to a 불량자, which is "a rascal," "a rowdy," "a scoundrel," or "a punk," but it does not seem to be used that way in some writings I have seen on the Internet. I will continue to look for the slang meaning of the word, but if anyone knows it already, I would appreciate if you would let me know by posting it to the comments section of this post.

What kinds of spelling errors do Koreans make?

Which of the following is incorrect?
  1. 잘 안 돼요.
  2. 잘 안 돼죠.

Sentence number 2 is incorrect because 어 is not needed to connect 되 to the 지요 ending. It is all right to reduce 지요 to 죠 in spoken Korean, but since an "어" is not used to attach 지요 to the verb stem, the sentence should read as "되죠," not "돼죠."

Sentence number 1, on the other hand, is correct because the polite ending 요 is attached to the verb stem with 어, 아, or 여, which means that 돼요 is an acceptable contraction of 되어요.

Here is a list of more mistakes Koreans make with their language.

What's a 대하소설(big river novel)?

A 대하소설(大河小說) is a saga novel or roman-fleuve, which chronicles the history of several generations of a family, community, or other group and often presents an overall view of society during a particular epoch. It is often presented in many volumes. (I got that from a dictionary, by the way.)

For some reason, the 대하소설 is very popular in Korea, as are 대하드라마, but I have never read one because I had always assumed it would take me a lifetime to finish one since they are sometimes ten to fifteen volumes long. A few examples are "삼국지" (10 volumes), "토지" (21 volumes), and "태백산맥" (10 volumes). Today on the Internet, however, I find a three volume set that tells the story of prostitutes (윤락녀, 매춘부, 양공주, 똥갈보, 똥치, 사창가, 창녀, 등). I found the first volume of the set online. It is entitled, "꺽지: 이브의 계곡." By the way, a 꺽지 is a kind of freshwater fish. I do not know yet if it is slang for something else.

I am thinking about reading 꺽지: 이브의 계곡 for three reasons. First, it is free. Second, I think there will be a lot of interesting slang in it. Third, I think it might be interesting to read about the life of Korean prostitutes. If I do start reading it, I will make a list of any slang I come across and post it here. I will start with the word 쪽방, which is used among thieves to refer to "a prostitute's room."

Slang from 꺽지: 이브의 계곡
  • 쪽방 a prostitute's room (slang among thieves)

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Who is 짠짜라?

I think 짠짜라 comes from this word, 짠하다? Watch the following music animation and see what you think:


Here is another version of 짠짜라. I think this one was filmed in Incheon in a park near the bus terminal.

Update: Here is the music video for 짠짜라.

Here is another video with questionable linguistic value: Bin 2 A.M.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

What is a 칠엽수(七葉樹)?

Tonight, I wanted to get out of my apartment to get some fresh air and exercise, so I decided to walk to my school. The walk takes about a hour and 15 minutes and passes through a few parks. In one of the parks I noticed a tree with a sign on it. I walked over and read the sign. It said the name of the tree was a 칠엽수. There was no English name, just the Korean name, a description, and the Latin name.

I started thinking about the Korean name, 칠엽수, and realized that it probably meant "seven leaf tree," so I looked up at the leaves still on the tree. Guess what? There were seven leaves to a stem. Here is a picture of a leaf from a 칠엽수.

I am at school now and looked up the English name for 칠엽수(七葉樹) on the Forest Korea Web site. The English name is "Japanese horse chestnut," which seems like a pretty good name. It is also called a "buckeye." Of course, none of those names describe the tree nearly as well as the Korean name, 칠엽수.

Here are the Chinese characters for 칠엽수(七葉樹):

  • 七(칠) seven
  • 葉(엽) leaf
  • 樹(수) tree

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Know of any silly, off-color cartoons?

엽기적인 가족

스님과 목사님

싸가지 삼형제


토끼와 당근

아가씨와 앵무새

김밥과 도너츠

그들은 용감했다

빌게이츠와 외계인

천국과 지옥

저 여기서 내려요


일본인 관광객

이름 때문에


황당한 소설 제목

슬픔, 분노, 쇼킹 1

슬픔, 분노, 쇼킹 2

슬픔, 분노, 쇼킹 3

초보 남편 일기

못말리는 바람둥이

지하철에서 사이코로 낙인 찍히는 방법


바보 삼총사


조폭과 아가씨

고참과 이등병

아기들의 비애

백설공주와 팅커벨

국회의원과 도둑

아둥 아둥

모든 비밀

무서운 이야기

I got them from this site.

Want to test your Korean writing skills?

Here is a link to a page of 108 questions that test your vocabulary, grammar, and spelling skills. The test will give you immediate feedback when you select an answer. A dialog box will pop up saying whether your answer is "정답입니다" or "정답이 아닙니다." It will also explain why the answer is right or wrong. Be careful not to confuse the "right answer" box and the "wrong answer" box because they look exactly the same, except for the words "정답입니다" and "정답이 아닙니다."

I have not finished the test, yet. I am only at Question 14, where I made my first mistake. It is not an easy test. I have only missed one so far, but I have been lucky, guessing at a couple of the answers along the way.

If anyone completes the test and would like to post your results, you can do it in the comments section of this post.

Good luck.

Friday, November 25, 2005

What does 말아먹다 mean?

말아먹다 means "to lose all of one's property." Here are some other compound verbs with 먹다:

The above are considered compound verbs because they are made from two verbs linked together, but there are also verb phrases like 씹어_먹다 that have not yet evolved into 1-word combinations, which means you will not find them listed in a Korean dictionary. Also, among the compound verbs, some can still be separated when the writer wants to apply the original meaning of 먹다 (to eat). Consider the two examples that follow:

  1. 남의 돈을 떼어먹고 달아났다.
    (He) cheated people out of their money and ran away.
  2. 접시에 붙어 있는 엿을 억지로 떼어 먹었다.
    (He) peeled off the taffy stuck to the plate and ate it.

In the Sentence 1, 떼어먹다 is a compound verb that means "to cheat someone out of his or her money," which has nothing to do with "eating." In Sentence 2, 떼어_먹다 is a verb phrase that means "to peel off and eat."

Here is a list of verb phrases with 먹다. (The phrases in red can also be joined to form compound verbs:

  • 누워서 먹는다. lie down and eat
  • 서서 먹는다. stand and eat
  • 앉아서 먹는다. sit and eat
  • 쭈그리고 앉아서 먹는다. squat and eat
  • 까 먹는다. peel and eat
  • 구워 먹는다. roast and eat
  • 끓여 먹는다. boil (liquid) and eat
  • 덥혀 먹는다. heat and eat
  • 떼어 먹는다. peel off and eat
  • 말려 먹는다. dry and eat
  • 쪄 먹는다. steam and eat
  • 볶아 먹는다. stir-fry and eat
  • 비벼 먹는다. mix and eat
  • 삶아 먹는다. boil (cook in boiling water) and eat
  • 싸 먹는다. wrap and eat
  • 씻어 먹는다. clean and eat
  • 튀겨 먹는다. deep-fry and eat
  • 깨물어 먹는다. gnaw and eat
  • 뜯어 먹는다. bite off and eat
  • 빨아 먹는다. suck and eat
  • 씹어 먹는다. chew and eat
  • 핥아 먹는다. lick and eat
  • 뒤져 먹는다. rummage and eat
  • 찾아 먹는다. find and eat
  • 훔쳐 먹는다. steal and eat
  • 방바닥에 내려놓고 먹는다. eat on the floor
  • 손에 들고 먹는다. hold and eat

참고: 이익섭(2005), "한국어 문법," 서울대학교출판부, pp. 312-317

What does 찰방찰방 mean?

도랑물---------------by 權泰應(권태응)

고추밭에 갈 적에
건너는 도랑물

찰방찰방 맨발로
건너는 도랑물

木花밭에 갈 때도
건너는 도랑물

찰방찰방 고기 새끼
붙잡는 도랑물.

The Ditch Water-------------by Kwon Tae-eung

Going to the red pepper field,
I cross over the ditch water.

Splashing, splashing in my bare feet
I cross over the ditch water

Going to the cotton field too
I cross over the ditch water

Splashing, splashing baby fish
Caught inside the ditch water.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Is 던 better or 한?

Which of the two sentences would be correct?

  1. 하던 일을 마저 해 치우자.
  2. 한 일을 마저 해 치우자.

Sentence 1 is the correct sentence.

하던 일을 마저 해 치우자.
Let's finish the work we were doing.

Sentence 1 is correct because 던 can imply that the work was interrupted, whereas 한 implies that the work was completed, leaving nothing to finish.

Now let's consider the opposite situation. Which of the following two sentences would be correct?

  1. 여기가 내가 졸업하던 학교다.
  2. 여기가 내가 졸업한 학교다.

Sentence 2 is correct.

여기가 내가 졸업한 학교다.
This is the school I graduated from.

Sentence 2 is correct because the verb 졸업하다 means you "have completed your studies," so 한 is more appropriate here than 하던.

What's the difference between 깔기다 & 내깔기다?

(똥 /오줌) 깔기다 means to "relieve oneself indiscriminately; discharge (excrements) irrespective of place." 내깔기다 means the same thing, except that the 똥 and 오줌 are discharged with more force.

When 내 is attached to certain verbs, it adds the meaning "forced outwardly." Here are some examples:
  • 내갈기다
  • 내걷다
  • 내걸다
  • 내긋다
  • 내깔기다
  • 내놓다
  • 내닫다
  • 내대다
  • 내던지다
  • 내돋다
  • 내돌리다
  • 내동댕이치다
  • 내두다
  • 내두르다
  • 내둘리다
  • 내디디다
  • 내떨다
  • 내뚫다
  • 내뛰다
  • 내맡기다
  • 내먹다
  • 내물리다
  • 내밀다
  • 내받다
  • 내발리다
  • 내뱉다
  • 내버리다
  • 내보내다
  • 내불다
  • 내빼다
  • 내빼오다
  • 내뻗다
  • 내뽑다
  • 내뿜다
  • 내솟다
  • 내쉬다
  • 내쌓다
  • 내쏘다
  • 내씹다
  • 내젓다
  • 내주다
  • 내쫓다
  • 내치다
  • 내팽개치다
  • 내퍼붓다
  • 내휘두르다
  • 내흔들다

What good words are in "흥부와제비"?

Those of you who are not reading the stories on the Korean Lab Web site are ignoring an excellent study source. Do not take Korean children stories for granted; they are an great way to learn the language, and children stories introduced in a progressively more difficult series are even better.

Here is a list of words and expressions I noticed in "흥부와 제비," on the Korean Lab Web site:

Here is a working song that was in the story:

톱질하세, 톱질하세
슬근슬근 톱질하세
이 바가지 복(福)바가지
슬근슬근 톱질하세

Let's saw, let's saw
Gently, gently, let's saw
This gourd's a lucky gourd
Gently, gently, let's saw

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

What is a 단풍나무?

One of the prettiest fall trees in Korea is the Japanese maple, which Koreans call 단풍나무. Besides being the name for the Japanese maple, 단풍 is also a genus name for "maple trees." Actually, when Koreans refer to 단풍나무, they do not seem to be referring to any particular maple, but to maples in general, and some even seem to be using it as a general reference to "autumn leaves." I say this because Koreans describe "an excursion to view autumn leaves" as 단풍놀이. "

There are a few Japanese maples at the entrance of my school, which I noticed this morning while I was walking onto the campus. Out of curiosity, I asked the Korean gate guard what kind of trees they were. He told me they were 홍단풍나무. I checked the Forest Korea Web site, but found no such tree listed. The gate guard just seemed to be referring to the Japanese maples based on the color of their leaves. In Korean, 홍 means "red," which means it is redundant to add it to 단풍 since the "단" in 단풍 already means "red." As I mentioned above, I suspect that the gate guard may either be thinking of all maples as 단풍 or all trees with autumn colors as 단풍.

By the way, Koreans refer to a "sugar maple" as a 설탕단풍나무, and a "silver maple" as a "은단풍나무.

What does 소리소리 mean?

소리 means the following:
  1. sound; noise
  2. voice; a cry; chirp
  3. a folk song; a ballad
  4. talk; a word; a statement; a remark
  5. a rumor; a report; news; an acount

Now what would you get if you wrote or said 소리 twice (소리소리)? Koreans think you would get "yelling" or "hollering," and it is not just one yell or one holler; it is a session of yelling and hollering. To make it a verb phrase, 지르다 is usually added (i.e. 소리소리 지르다).

I mention 소리소리 지르다 because it came up in a story on the Korean Lab Web site, entitled, "흥부와 제비," which is a Korean classic.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

What is a 신갈나무?

On my way to work, I pass through a small park to get to the subway. Today, while walking through the park, I saw a tree labeled as 신갈나무. Since I have become interested in trees lately, I picked off a leaf and brought it to school with me. At school, I looked up 신갈나무 and found that it means "Mongolian Oak."

In class, I asked my students if they had heard of 신갈나무, but none of them had. I then asked them if they had heard of 참나무, and all of them had. Actually, 참나무 is not any particular tree; it is a genus name, but Koreans usually use it to refer to at least six species of oak. In other words, a Korean would probably look at a 신갈나무 and call it a 참나무.

According to Forest Korea, there are essentially six kinds of oak that Koreans commonly refer to as 참나무:

Seven Korean Trees You Definitely Need to Know

  • 소나무 (pine) Koreans love their shape and needles.
  • 참나무 (oak) Koreans love their acorns (도토리).
  • 은행나무 (ginkgo) Koreans love their leaves on sidewalks.
  • 느티나무 (zelkova) Koreans love their shade.
  • 밤나무 (chestnut) Koreans love their nuts.
  • 벚나무 (cherry) Koreans love their blossoms.
  • 버들 (willow) Koreans love their buds (버들눈).

Sunday, November 20, 2005

What is the difference between 깨치다 & 깨우치다?

Today I started to read "연극 이야기" on the Korean Lab Web site, but was stopped almost immediately by the word, 깨치다. I knew the general meaning of the word, but it was a word that, for some reason, had always bothered me, so I decided to chew on it for a while.

깨치다 means "to realize," "to perceive," or "to awaken to," which seems to make it a synonym of 깨닫다, though 깨닫다 seems to be used somewhat differently. I am not sure of the exact difference between the two words, but I think it may have something to do with the degree of force or strength of the words; that is, I think 깨치다 may be a stronger word then 깨닫다. I do not know what the 닫다 on 깨닫다 means, but I do know that "치다" is an ending that often gives force or strength to the words it attaches to. Here is a list of such words:

When you realize a truth on your own, Koreans say (내가) 진리를 깨치다. When someone helps you realize that truth, Koreans say (그는 나한테) 진리를 깨우치다.

What does 촌철살인(寸鐵殺人) mean?

촌철살인(寸鐵殺人) literally means "kill someone with inch-long steel," but it implies that it is easier to catch an opponent off guard with one word, than with a thousand. Here are the characters:
  • 寸(촌) inch
  • 鐵(철) iron; steel
  • 殺(살) kill
  • 人(인) person

The 鐵(철) character refers to iron weapons. Here 살인(殺人) refers to killing a person's earthly desires, not to actually killing a person. The expression implies that a person can come to understand some truth from a simple lesson. Originally, the expression was referring to the truth of Zen Buddhism.

The expression is supposed to have originated in China during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) when a scholar by the name of 나대경(羅大經) was discussing Zen Buddhism with guests one evening. 나대경 is supposed to have said the following:

어떤 사람이 무기를 한 수레 가득 싣고 왔다고 해서 살인을 할 수 있는 것이 아니다. 나는 오히려 한 치도 안 되는 칼만 있어도 사람을 죽일 수 있다.

A person cannot kill someone by saying he brought along a wagon full of weapons. On the contrary, I can kill someone with just a knife that is not even one inch long.

You can read the Korean here.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

How many topics can one sentence have?

In a previous post here, I talked about mistakes in one sentence of an SBS broadcast. Now I want to talk about mistakes in the two sentences following that sentence.

Here is the problem paragraph from the SBS broadcast:
지난 12일부터 시작된 부산 APEC이 오늘(19일) 2차 정상회의를 마지막으로 대단원의 막을 내렸습니다. 오늘 정상회의에서는 무역자유화와 역내안전 확대를 주 내용으로 하는 부산 선언을 채택했습니다. 21개 나라 정상들은 이와는 별도로 도하 라운드의 성공적 타결의지를 담은 특별 성명도 채택했습니다.

Today (November 19), with the conclusion of the second round of summit talks, the final curtain came down on the Busan APEC meetings, which began on November 12. Today at the summit meetings, the Busan declaration was adopted, in which the main content is free trade and regional security. Aside from this, the 21 heads of state adapted a special statement that expressed their agreement on reaching a successful compromise at the Doha Round of talks.
I will not talk about the first sentence in the paragraph since I already talked about it here, so I will only talk about the second and third sentences.

I see two problems with the second sentence. One is the phrase 주 내용으로 하는 부산 선언, which means "the Busan Declaration, in which the main content is...." Did SBS want to say 주 내용으로 하는 or 주 내용으로 한, which means "the main content was"? I think SBS wanted to say 주 내용으로 한 since the content was already included and adopted. 주 내용으로 하는 is possible, but it should be used to talk about future intentions. For example, it would be all right to say 주 내용으로 하는 부산 선언을 채택하습니다, which would mean "a Busan Declaration, in which the main content would be ... will be adapted." In my example, the content has not been adopted, yet.

The second problem I have with the second sentence is the phrase 정상회의에서는 선언을 채택했습니다. The sentence does not say who adopted the declaration; it only says that it was adopted at the summit meeting. The "meeting" did not adopt it; the participants at the meeting adopted it, but the participants are not mentioned in the sentence. Therefore, I think the sentence should read 선언이 채택됐습니다, not 선언을 채택했습니다.

In the third sentence, the most obvious mistake is that the sentence has two topics: 정상들은 and 이와는. The markers 은/는 are topic makers, and there should be only one topic in a sentence. In the SBS sentence, I think the topic should be 이와는, so the sentence should be rewritten as "이와는 별도로 21개 나라 정상들이 ...."

The second mistake I see in the third sentence is 도하 라운드의 성공적 타결의지를 담은 특별 성명도, which simply cannot be translated as it is. What I think SBS wanted to say was "a special statement that expressed their agreement on reaching a successful compromise at the Doha Round of talks." If that is the case, then the sentence should be rewritten as follows:
이와는 별도로 21개 나라 정상들이 도하 라운의 성공적인 타결을 바라는 의지를 담은 특별 성명도 채택했습니다.

In conclusion, I would rewrite the complete paragraph as follows:
지난 12일에 시작된 부산 APEC 에서는 오늘(19일)에 제2차 정상회의가 끝난 것으로 대단원의 막이 내렸습니다. 오늘 정상회의에서는 무역자유화와 역내안전 확대를 주 내용으로 한 부산 선언이 채택됐습니다. 이와는 별도로 21개 나라 정상들이 도하 라운의 성공적인 타결을 바라는 의지를 담은 특별 성명도 채택했습니다.

Koreans often complain about a problem in their society known as 대강주의 태도, which is an attitude of just doing enough to get the job done. In the United States, we often accuse government employees of having such an attitude. In fact, an expression we have created to describe it is, "That's good enough for government work." In regard to their language, many Koreans seem to have the same attitude: "That's good enough for government work."

What does 대단원 mean?

Tonight on the SBS 8 O'clock News, the anchor said the following:

지난 12일부터 시작된 부산 APEC이 오늘(19일) 2차 정상회의를 마지막으로 대단원의 막을 내렸습니다.

Today (November 19), with the conclusion of the second round of summit talks, the final curtain came down on the Busan APEC meetings, which began on November 12.

I translated the above sentence in the way I think SBS wanted to say it, but SBS did not say it that way because that one little sentence was full of mistakes. Actually, I found four.
  1. 지난 12일부터 시작된
    If SBS wants to use 지난 12일부터, then she should not use the verb 시작된 since 시작하다 describes something that happens in an instant, not over a period of time, which is implied by 부터. Is it really possible for something "to start from the 12th to the 19th"? That would be an awfully slow start.

    If SBS wants to use 지난 12일부터, then she should use a verb like 진행해 온, which means "has proceeded," instead of 시작된. If SBS wants to use 시직된, then she should use 에 instead of 부터, which would make it read as 지난 12일에 시작된.
  2. 정상회의를 마지막으로
    There is no verb in the Korean sentence to go with the above phrase. As it is, the Korean sentence is esentially saying, 정상회의를 막을 내렸습니다, which means it has two objects and one verb. 막을 내리다 makes sense, but 정상회의를 내리다 does not. To fix the sentence, SBS would have to say 정상회의에서 막을 내렸습니다, or 마지막으로 한 정상회의에서 막을 내렸습니다.
  3. 마지막으로 대단원의 막을 내렸습니다
    대단원 means "grand finale" or "end." In the SBS sentence, I think they meant for 대단원의 막 to mean "the final curtain." If that is the case, then why did they need 마지막으로, which means "finally." Did they really want to say, "the final curtain was finally lowered"? To fix it, SBS would have to omit 마지막으로 since it is redundant.
  4. APEC이 ... 대단원의 막을 내렸습니다
    The above sentence says, "APEC lowered the final curtain." Did APEC lower the curtain? Or did the curtain simply fall? 내리다 can be used as both a transitive and an intransitive verb, which means you can say 막을 내렸다 or 막이 내렸다. If the sentence was 대단원의 막이 내렸습니다, then it would translate as "the final curtain fell," which I think sounds better.

Anyway, here is how I would rewrite the SBS sentence.

지난 12일에 시작된 부산 APEC 에서는 오늘(19일)에 제2차 정상회의가 끝난 것으로 대단원의 막이 내렸습니다.

Today (November 19), with the conclusion of the second round of summit talks, the final curtain came down on the Busan APEC meetings, which began on November 12.

By the way, I was a little curious about how 대단원(大團圓) came to mean "grand finale," so I looked at each Chinese character individually. Here they are:

I guess 대단원 could be referring to "a large gathering in a circle," the way circus performers might come together in the center ring to signal the end of a performance. I am only guessing, but I must make these kinds of associations to remember the word.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

How should we use "서로"?

I have two books written by 이수열, a man who was a teacher for 47 years, but who now spends a lot of time writing about the misuse of the Korean language in publications and in the media. One of his pet peeves is the misuse of the word 서로, which means "mutually" or "reciprocally."

Mr. Lee says that 서로 is a word that indicates a relationship between two people and is, therefore, not something that could be the subject or object of a sentence, which means it should never be marked with the subject markers (가/이) or the object markers (을/를).

Here are some misuses of the word 서로 that Mr. Lee has found. The problem portion is in red:
  • 학습활동을 중심으로 ‘서로의 의견을’ 주고받는 것이 좋은 방법이다.(고등국어 상 218쪽)
    의견을 서로 ∼.
  • 모든 사람들이 제멋대로 행동하는 것을 허용한다면 ‘서로가 서로의 길을’ 방해하게 될 것이고 ….(고등국어 상 316쪽)
    Correction: ∼ 서로 ∼.
  • 눈앞의 상대편과 논의할 때도 ‘서로가’ 예의를 잘 차려야만 잘 되어 갈 것이다.(" 440쪽)
    Correction: "∼ 서로 ∼."
  • '우리 서로가’ 힘을 합하면 두려울 것이 없다.(표준국어대사전)
    Correction: 우리가 서로 ∼.
  • 우리는 이 지구를, 땅을 얼마나 생각했을까 진실로 ‘서로가 서로를 필요로 하는’ 생태계를 얼마나 생각했을까(ㄷ신문 기고글)
    Correction: ∼ 서로 필요한 ∼.
  • 부산 아시안게임에서 남북한 응원단이 ‘서로를’ 응원하기로 했다.(ㅎ신문)
    Correction: ∼ 서로 ∼.
  • 남북 쌍방은 ‘서로가 서로를’ 인정하는 바탕에서 만나 대화를 해야 한다.(ㄷ신문)
    Correction: ∼ 서로 ∼, ∼ 상대를 ∼.
  • 우리 사회의 현존하는 교육 시스템은 ‘서로가’ 단절되어 있고 연계성이 취약하다.(고등국어 하 324)
    Correction: ∼ 서로 ∼.

I got the above information from here.

How would you describe a really lazy person?

The following is an expression Koreans use to describe a really lazy person:
아랫목에서 밥 먹고 윗목에서 똥 싸는 사람
A person who eats on the warmer (lower) part of an ondol floor and defecates on the cooler (upper) part

An ondol floor is a heating system that uses flues under the floor to heat rooms in traditional Korean homes. The portion of the floor nearest the firebox is called 아랫목 and is warmer than the portion of the floor farthest from the firebox, which is called 윗목. The above expression seems to be describing someone who is so lazy that he or she will not even go outside to go to the restroom.

The above expression appears in the following story:

새끼 서 발로 얻은 큰 재산

옛날 어느 마을에 게으름뱅이 아들을 둔 과부가 살았습니다. 게으름뱅이 아들은 날마다 아랫목에서 밥 먹고 윗목 요강에다 똥 누고 문턱 베고 낮잠만 잤습니다. 과부는 외아들 하나 믿고 사는데, 나이가 들수록 아들이 게으름만 피우니 화가 났습니다.

"얘야, 이 똥개야. 너도 이제는 남들처럼 일 좀 해라."

"어머니, 나는 일을 해보지 않아서 일을 할 수가 없는데 무슨 일을 하지요?"

"정 할 일이 없으면 새끼라도 꼬아라."

"그럼 새끼를 꼴 테니 짚 좀 갖다 주셔요."

"아이고 내 팔자야."과부는 신세 타령을 하면서 짚 한 뭇(장작이나 잎나무를 한 묶음씩 작게 묶은 단)을 갖다 주었습니다. 게으름뱅이는 하루 종일 문을 닫아걸고 열심히 새끼를 꼬았습니다. 저녁때 과부가 밭에서 돌아와, 아들이 새끼를 얼마나 많이 꼬았는지 보았습니다.

"그래, 새끼를 얼마나 꼬았느냐?"

"열 두발 꼬았습니다."

"어디 좀 보자."

게으름뱅이는 자기가 꼰 새끼를 양팔을 벌려 "한 발, 두 발, 열두 발 하고 있으니 말입니다.

"밥 빌어먹기 똑 알맞겠다. 그 새끼 가지고 집에서 나가거라."

게으름뱅이는 집에서 쫓겨났습니다. 새끼 서 발을 들고 어디 만큼 걸어가던 게으름뱅이는 다리가 아파 나무 그늘 아래서 쉬고 있었습니다. 항아리를 지게에 지고 다니면서 파는 항아리 장수도 그 나무 그늘 아래서 낮잠을 자고 있었습니다.항아리 장수가 잠꼬대를 하면서 발로 지게를 건드렸습니다. 지게가 넘어지면서 항아리가 굴러떨어져 두 쪽으로 깨지고 말았습니다. 항아리 장수는 "아이고 이걸 어쩌나." 하면서 어쩔 줄을 몰랐습니다.

"이 새끼로 묶으십시오. 그러면 물을 담을 수는 없겠지만 곡식은 담아 놓고 쓸 만하겠습니다." 게으름뱅이는 새끼를 항아리 장수에게 건네 주었습니다. 항아리 장수는 고맙다고 하면서 작은 물동이 하나를 게으름뱅이에게 주었습니다. 게으름뱅이는 물동이를 들고 어디 만큼 걸어갔습니다. 목이 말랐습니다. 마침 우물이 있어서 물을 마시려고 다가갔습니다. 우물가에서 한 젊은 새댁이 울고 있었습니다.

"새댁은 웬일로 울고 계시는지요?"

"저는 시집온 지 하루밖에 안 된 새댁인데 처음 물길러 왔다가 물동이를 깨뜨렸답니다. 그래서 어떻게 집에 들어가나 걱정이 되어 울고 있답니다."

"그래요? 마침 내가 물동이 하나를 가지고 있는데, 이걸 드릴 터이니 가져가십시오."

새댁은 마치 토끼가 용궁에 갔다 온 것처럼 좋아했습니다.

"이렇게 고마우실 데가... 제가 시집오면서 흑염소 세 마리를 가져왔답니다. 저기 저 흑염소가 제 것입니다. 그 가운데 한 마리를 드릴 터이니 가져가십시오."

게으름뱅이는 새댁에게서 흑염소 한 마리를 얻어 고삐를 끌고 길을 걸었습니다. 어느 마을을 지나가는데 한 아주머니가 그를 불렀습니다.

"총각, 저기 흑염소 끌고 가는 총각!"

"저를 부르셨습니까?"

"내 사정 이야기 좀 들어 보시오. 우리 남편이 몹쓸 병에 걸렸는데 약방어른께서 흑염소를 고아 먹어야 낫는다는구려. 그 염소를 저에게 주시면 대신 소를 한 마리 드리리다."

"사람을 살린다는데 거절할 수 없는 일이지요."

게으름뱅이는 흑염소를 아주머니에게 주고, 대신 소를 얻어 가지고 또 길을 걸었습니다. 어디 만큼 산길을 가는데, 사냥꾼이 곰을 잡아서 몽둥이에 묶어서는 어깨에 메고 오고 있었습니다.사냥꾼이 게으름뱅이를 불렀습니다.

"모를 내려면 논에 쟁기질을 해야 하는데 우리 집에 소가 없어 큰일입니다. 이 곰을 드릴 터이니 그 소를 저에게 주실 수 없겠습니까?"

"나는 쟁기질할 땅도 없는 사람입니다. 그렇게 하시지요."

게으름뱅이는 곰을 얻어 가지고 또 길을 걸었습니다. 가다가 보니 서울에 닿았던가 봅니다. 남대문 앞에 이르러 사람들이 옹기종기 모여 있는 데로 갔습니다. 커다란 종이에 "공주님이 병에 걸리셨다. 웅담을 구해 오는 사람에게 큰 상을 내리겠다."는 내용의 글이 씌어 있었습니다. 게으름뱅이는 곰을 가지고 궁궐로 갔습니다. 임금은 크게 기뻐하며 그에게 큰 상을 내렸습니다. 게으름뱅이는 새끼 서 발로 큰 재산을 얻었습니다. 사람들은 제 복은 제가 타고나는 모양이라고 수군거렸습니다.

The above story came from here.

What does 독새기 mean?

In the Jeju dialect, 독새기 means "egg" (계란). I have heard that the word comes from 닭새끼, which means "baby chicken."

I am not really into dialects, but if I lived in Jeju-do, I might spend some time studying their dialect. For those interested in the Jeju-do dialect, here is a page that lists some terms and expressions. And for those interesting in reading some old Jeju-do stories, here is a site that gives you the story in the Jeju dialect, along with a translation in standard Korean. The stories are short, so for fun, those of you who live in Jeju-do might want to memorize one in the Jeju dialect and tell it to one of your Korean friends there.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

What's the most popular Korean shade tree?

In Korean, a "shade tree" is called a 정자나무. The 정자 is the same 정자(亭子) used to mean "pavilion," which is a covered outdoor structure that people relax under. Since people also like to relax under shade trees, 정자나무 seems like the perfect name for "shade tree."

Here are some Korean shade trees:

Can you guess which of the above shade trees is the most popular in Korea? Well, among the four, the 느티나무 (zelkova tree) is, by far, the most popular. In fact, I have read that 80 percent of the shade trees in Korea are 느티나무.

Traditionally, Korean villages have one or two huge shade trees at their entrances, and the 느티나무 seems to be the most popular. These trees act as a kind of outdoor gathering place for the people of the village, which means the trees play an important part in their lives, or, at least, they used to.

I have also heard that, in the past, Korean villagers would often keep a store of rocks under the village shade tree, so that they could be used to defend the village from attack. The village tree was a good place to keep the rocks because the tree was near the entrance of the village and because the spirit of the tree could bless the rocks, which would help make sure the rocks hit their targets.

The 느티나무 is mentioned a great deal in Korean literature, which is not surprising since it has played such a prominent role in the lives of many Koreans. Even Koreans who have grown up in the city know about 느티나무 because most probably have relatives who still live in small villages in the countryside.

The reason I have posted on 느티나무 today is not only that it is an important part of Korean culture, but also that it was mentioned in this story on the Korean Lab Web site.

What is the "ringworm tree"?

There is a tree at the corner of an intersection I have to cross on my way to school. I often stand under it while waiting for the light to change. The leaves are as big as or bigger than my hand and quite beautiful, especially in the fall. The trunk is patchy and peeling. I have often wondered about the name of the tree and have sometimes asked Koreans, also waiting for the light, if they knew its name. They have always answered with "몰라요." Today, however, I picked up one of the big leaves lying on the ground and decided that I was going to find out the name the of tree.

I did a search on Google with the word "가로수" and found this page. Then I went to "Forrest Korea" and started looking up the trees on the list. I finally found the tree here. The Engish name of the tree is "sycamore." Here is a good picture of a leaf and the trunk of the tree.

Koreans imported the sycamore tree from the United States because they made good "roadside trees" (가로수) and are not easily affected by pollution. The Korean name for the sycamore is 양버즘나무, which means "Western ringworm tree." Koreans called it the ringworm tree because the peeling bark of the tree reminded them of the peeling skin on the shaved heads of the many Korean children who used to suffer from ringworm. Many Koreans, however, did not like referring to such a beautiful tree by such an ugly name and started to also call it 플라타너스, which is the Korean pronunciation of "Platanus," which comes from "Platanus occidentalis," the Latin name for the tree.

Having solved that mystery, I may finally be able to sleep soundly tonight.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Why does "가" change 너 & 저 to 네 & 제?

In Korean, 가 and 이 are subject markers that Koreans attach to a noun or pronoun to show that the noun or pronoun is the subject of the sentence. 가 attaches to nouns and pronouns that end in vowels, and 이 attaches to nouns and pronouns that end in consonants. Between the two subject markers, 이 is the older one since Koreans did not start using 가 until a couple of hundred years ago. Before that, 이 was attached to all nouns and pronouns, regardless of whether they ended in vowels or consonants.

The new grammar rule must have caused a bit of confusion in Korea because some Koreans in some regions, even today, mark the subject of a sentence by using 이 and 가 together, maybe just to be safe. Consider the following sentence:
당신 너 딸이가 찾아왔습니다.
Your daughter is here looking for you.

Notice how 이 and 가 are both used to mark the subject?

I have read that 네가 and 제가 are probably abbreviated forms of 너이가 and 저이가.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

How do Koreans say "dumbfounded"?

While reading a story called "당나귀 알," I came across the phrase, "수박 장수는 너무 기가 차서...," and become curious about the word 기차다. I became curious because I could not remember ever seeing the word before, even though I most probably have. It may just be one of those words that I have looked up a dozen times, but never really paid enough attention to. Anyway, I want to remember it this time by giving it a little attention.

기차다 means "dumbfounded," "stunned," or "shocked," and, therefore, seems to have the same meaning as 기막히다, which I have heard many times before. Actually, when I first saw 기차다, the word 숨차다 (be out of breath) came to mind, and I thought the writer may have made a mistake by writing 기차다 instead of 기막히다. Of course, after looking up the word, I realized that I was the one who made the mistake.

By the way, I noticed that another definition for 기차다 is 정떨어지다, which means "become disgusted ," "fall out of love ," or "grow sick of." I mention this because 정떨어지다 is a good word that is used a lot in Korea.

From now on, I think I will finally be able to remember 기차다.

You nestling! ... What did you call me?!

In Korean, I usually avoid talking about "nestlings" because I feel like I am cursing.

The Korean word for "nestling" is 새새끼.

What is wrong with 나는 싸웠다?

"나는 싸웠다" is considered an awkward sentence in Korean because the speaker does not say who he or she fought with. Koreans would normally say something like 나는 그와 싸웠다, which means "I fought with him." In English,"I had a fight" may sound all right, but Korean normally requires that you mention with whom you had the fight.

It takes two to tango, it takes two to fight, and it takes two to do many other things, as well. There are certain Korean verbs that require a partner or an opponent to perform the action, and among these verbs, some require that if you mention one partner or opponent, you mention the other. Often you mention that partner or opponent by using one of the "and" conjunctions, that is, 와, 과, or 하고. Here is a list of some of those "two-to-tango" verbs: