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."


  1. Yeah, but younger married ladies (say mid- to late-thirties?) refer to their husbands as 신랑 in spite of having been married for 5 to 10+ years.

  2. Gerry, it is no wonder that Koreans use so many redundancies, as they do not know what individual meanings go into the making of each word from Chinese characters. Its a real pity too - they have lost connection with their history.

  3. Taemin,

    Yes, I have heard Koreans say, "우리 신랑은...," but I wonder why they prefer that to "우리 남편은..."?

    Anyway, in English it would sound strange to refer to one's husband by saying, "My groom...." In fact, I think we stop using the terms "bride" and "groom" as soon as the wedding ceremony is over.


    I agree with you. I think it is important for Koreans to learn Chinese characters, and I think mistakes like "새신랑" are good examples of why it is important.

  4. ATM machine, RPMs, 역전 앞, 족발, 무궁화꽃, 처가집, 옥상 위 redundant words seem to work their way in don't they. At first I postulated there was the possibility of 새 and 신 carring slightly different connotations, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

    Actually it is too bad the characters aren't emphasized as much anymore. I certainly wouldn't want Korean to adopt a writing system like Japanese, but I suppose there is a hidden blessing. If you have to write something like 옥상 위 you would write it 屋上の上 and it immediately stands out as looking awkward and redundant.

  5. Just a momentary thought: it's not only that nobody feels the force of '새' in '신랑' anymore. Korean doesn't seem to mind redunancy. By way of example that comes immediately to mind, how about the lyrics "누가 나와 같이 함께 울어줄 사람있나요" etc., etc., in the song <동행

  6. 신랑
    1. 새신랑.
    2. '남의 젊은 남편'을 일컫는 말.
    ex- 너의 신랑은 요즘 어떠니?

    There exists a big gap now between Korean and Chinese characters hidden within it. It might be more helpful sometimes to refer to Korean dictionary.


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