Saturday, December 15, 2007

不患人之不己知 患不知人也?

These days I am studying Chinese writing (漢文) by doing self study with a Korean book ("한문해석법"), which is not easy without an instructor. The book explains many things, but, of course, I still have questions. For example, I have a question about the following sentence, which comes from the section in the book explaining negative commands:

不患人之不己知 患不知人也 (불환인지불기지 환불지인야)

Don't worry that people will not recognize you; worry that you will not recognize people.

As you may know, Chinese sentences use a different word order from Korean. In fact, they supposedly use an English word order, that is, "subject-verb-object," but there are still some differences I do not yet understand. For example, I do not understand why the first part of the above Chinese sentence is written as it is.

Notice that the above Chinese sentence is actually made up of two sentences (clauses).

不患人之不己知 - Don't worry that people will not recognize you;

患不知人也 - worry that you will not recognize people.

I understand the second sentence because it follows the word order I would expect, but the first sentence has a different word order, for some reason. Here is the breakdown of the second sentence:

Worry (患) [you] do not (不) recognize (知) people (人) 也*

*也 acts like a period.

Notice that the above sentence has basically the same word order as a command in English, which makes sense to me. In other words, the object (people) comes after the verb (recognize). Now look at the word order of the first sentence, which does not make sense to me:
Do not (不) worry (患) that people (人之) do not (不) you (己) recognize (知);
Notice in the above sentence that the object (you) comes before the verb (recognize). Why? Was it a misprint?

Friday, December 14, 2007

다 같지 않다 vs. 다 같은 것은 아니다?

Notice the difference between the following two sentences:

  1. 다 같지 않다. (None are the same. / No two are alike.)
  2. 다 같은 것은 아니다. (Not all are the same. / Many are the same, but some are different.)

Sentence 1 refers to everything, but sentence 2 refers to only some.

These patterns can be used in other situations as well. Consider the following:

  1. 항상 있지 않다. (There is never any. / ... is never [here].)
  2. 항상 있는 것이 아니다. (Sometimes there is not any. / ... is not always [here.])
  3. 반듯이 되지 않는다. (It never works.)
  4. 반듯이 되는 것은 아니다. (Sometimes it does not work.)

Notice the subtle differences? Now here is how you would write the above sentences in Chinese:

  • 皆不同(개불동) - None are the same.
  • 不皆同(불개동) - Not all are the same
  • 常不有(상불유) - There is never any.
  • 不常有(불상유) - Sometimes there is not any.
  • 必不成(필불성) - It never works.
  • 不必成(불필성) - Sometimes it does not work.

Notice that the only difference between the two Chinese expressions in each group is the order in which the characters appear.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

What are a "sea dog," "sea cat," & "sea mouse"?

海狗 (해구 - sea dog) = seal
海猫 (해묘 - sea cat) = black-tailed gull
海鼠 (해서 - sea mouse) = sea cucumber

Thursday, October 25, 2007

What does "큐 세대" mean?

"큐 세대" is a new Korean word used to describe "a generation of people who are absorbed in the Internet and have little or no interest in politics." The 큐 in 큐 세대 comes from the English work "quiet"; 세대, of course, means "generation," so 큐세대 literally means, "the quiet generation."

If you are interested in learning other new Korean words, there is a list HERE, on the Web site of the National Institute of Korean Language (국립국어원).

Thursday, September 27, 2007

What does 만삭(滿朔) mean?

만삭(滿朔) means "the last month of prenancy." Synonyms for 만삭 include 해산달 and 당삭. The word also means "the first day of a lunar month (초하루), which is when the moon appears as a crescent. The bulging belly of a woman in her last month of prenancy looks a lot like a crescent moon, which is probably why the same word is used to describe a new moon and a pregnant women.

In a September 28, 2007 article HERE, 만삭 was used to describe the figure of a pregnant Christina Aguilar (크리스티나 아길레라 만삭 몸매 "내 몸에 키스" 화제!!); however, the article said that the baby was not due until December, which means that Ms. Aquilar was not yet in her last month of pregnancy. The writer of the article misused the word 만삭.

Here is the picture that was posted with the article:

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Who is 남영신?

Nam Yeong-sin (남영신) is an author who has written several books about the Korean language, including a book entitled, "남영신의 한국어용법 핸드북," which I find quite interesting. I paid 19,000 won for the book and think it was worth it, but you can read many of the chapters from the book online for free. Here are links to some of the chapters from the book and to a few writings that do not seem to come from the book:

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Is "형편없는 인격자" correct?

I have a great book entitled "한국어용법핸드북," which talks about the Korean language and, especially, the use and misuse of Korean words. I really like the author, Nam Yeong-sin (남영신), who also wrote "나의 한국어 바로 쓰기 노트." I like him because his explanations are very detailed and because he also seems to be genuinely curious about why Koreans say the things they do. If you would like to see what I mean, you can read some of Mr. Nam's stuff HERE.

Of course, as many of you probably know, "Even monkeys fall out of trees" (원숭이도 나무에서 떨어진다), and Mr. Nam is no exception. For example, while reading his essay on 말/말씀, I came across the expression, "형편없는 인격자," which Mr. Nam said was the intended meaning of the expression"사람 같지 않은 사람." However, by choosing to use the word 인격자 ("a man of character" or "a great man") instead of simply using the word 사람 (person), Mr. Nam created an oxymoron since 형편없는 인격자 translates as "a terrible, great man."

The essay 말/말씀 refers to several useful expressions, including the following:
  • 말잔치
  • 말로만
  • 말로 온 동네를 다 겪는다
  • 실천이 따르지 않는 말
  • 말 같지 않은 말
  • 말 뒤에 말이 있다
  • 말 속에 말 들었다
  • 말은 할 탓이다
  • 말은 꾸밀 탓으로 간다
  • 말은 보태고 떡은 뗀다
  • 말이 말을 만든다
  • 말이 말을 문다
  • 말이 씨가 된다
  • 말 안 하면 귀신도 모른다
  • 말은 해야 맛이고, 고기는 씹어야 맛이다
  • 말이 고우면 비지 사러 갔다가 두부 사 가지고 오다
  • 말을 가리다
  • 말을 건네다
  • 말을 꺼내다
  • 말을 내다
  • 말을 돌리다
  • 말을 듣다
  • 말을 맞추다
  • 말을 못하다
  • 말을 받다
  • 말을 삼가다
  • 말을 삼키다
  • 말을 쓰다
  • 말을 앞세우다
  • 말을 조심하다
  • 말을 하다
  • 말로 갚다
  • 말로 사과하다
  • 말로 하다
  • 말로 할 수 없다
  • 말에 화가 나다
  • 말에 뼈가 있다
  • 말이 거칠다
  • 말이 나다
  • 말이 떨어지다
  • 말이 뜨다
  • 말이 되다
  • 말이 많다
  • 말이 무겁다
  • 말이 아니다
  • 말이 아프다
  • 말이 있다
  • 말이 퍼지다
  • 말이 헛나가다
  • 말거리
  • 말결
  • 말곁을 달다
  • 말귀
  • 말길
  • 말꼬
  • 말꼬리
  • 말꾸러기
  • 말끝
  • 말눈치
  • 말다툼
  • 말동무
  • 말막음
  • 말문
  • 말밑천
  • 말벗
  • 말본새
  • 말쏨씨
  • 말썽
  • 말전주
  • 말주변
  • 말추렴
  • 말허리를 꺾다
  • 거짓말
  • 군말
  • 귀엣말
  • 꽃말
  • 낱말
  • 도움말
  • 뒷말
  • 막말
  • 반말
  • 변말
  • 시쳇말
  • 옛말
  • 익은말
  • 잔말
  • 정말
  • 준말
  • 참말