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)