Saturday, April 25, 2009

Is there anything better than the "small comforts" in life?

Is there anything better than the "small comforts" in life?

Yes, of course, the large comforts.

The Chinese character 便 (편) means "편하다," which means "comfortable" or "easy." The character can also be pronounced as "변," but then the meaning changes to "urine" or "feces."

Is it just a coincidence that the literal meanings of 소변 (小便 - urine) and 대변 (feces) are "small comfort" and "large comfort"?

The pure Korean for urine and feces are 오줌 and 똥, respectively, but 소변 and 대변 sound more refined, for some reason.

By the way, if you want to tell a friend that you "want to take a piss" or " want to take a dump," it would be better NOT to say 오줌(소변)을 싸고 싶다 or 똥(대변)을 싸고 싶다 since that would imply that you want to piss in your pants or take a dump in your pants. Even many Koreans mistakenly say 오줌(똥) 싸고 싶다. Instead, you should say 오줌 (소변)을 누고 싶다 and 똥(대변)을 누고 싶다. Also, instead of 누다, you can use the verb 보다.

What's the difference between 굶다 and 주리다?

굶다 seems to mean "to go hungry," while 주리다 seems to mean "to be hungry." In other words, 굶다 seems to be the more serious situation since one does not have or cannot afford the food to eat. Therefore, if you wanted to say that someone "died from hunger," you would say, 굶어죽었다, not 주려죽었다.

Also, 주리다, not 굶다, is used in the figurative sense. See the following examples:
  • 사랑에 주리다 - be hungry for affection
  • 지식에 주리다 - be hungry for knowledge
굶다 and 주리다 also combine to form the word 굶주리다, which seems to have the implied meanings of both words. For example, 굶주리다 can mean literally "starving" or it can mean "hungry" in the figurative sense. See the following examples:
  • 가뭄 때문에 많은 사람이 굶주렸다.
    Many people starved during the drought.
  • 그는 지식에 굶주리고 있었다.
    He was hungry for knowledge.
  • 병사들은 피에 굶주리고 있었다.
    The soldiers were thirty for blood.
I like the simplicity of the following proverb:
주린 고양이가 쥐를 만났다.
A hungry cat met a mouse.
It means, "It looks like this is my lucky day."