Sunday, October 09, 2005

What does 달다 mean?

I am still reading and enjoying the stories in the second grade textbook on the Korean Lab Web site. Even though I have studied Korean for a long time, I am learning many little things about the language from the site. In fact, I am beginning to think that one reason non-Korean adults have such a hard time learning Korean is that they are trying to get into the big words too quickly, skipping over the little words that Korean children start with. Maybe, we could learn Korean much faster if we pretended to be Korean children, imitating their play and their language. Maybe the best Korean language teacher is a Korean child and the best classroom a room full of toys and picture books?

Today, the word 달다 came up in a story entitled, "김장," winter kimchi-making. Here is where it was used:
아빠, 엄마, 이모, 할머니는 그 매운 배추 속박이를 잡수시며, "어! 달다!" 하고 말씀하셨습니다.

Tasting the hot kimchi stuffing for the cabbage, my father, mother, aunt, and grandmother said, "어! 달다!"

What does 달다 mean here? At first, I thought it meant "sweet," which is one meaning of 달다, but why would someone describe spicy kimchi stuffing as "sweet"? I think even the child in the story was confused by the word 달다. Anyway, I looked up the word and found that 달다 can also mean, "tasty," which is what I think they were saying in the story.

By the way, "김장" is one of the stories written by a child.

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