Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What does 넉살이 좋다 mean?

My dictionary defines 넉살 as follows:
  • shamlessness; impudence; cheekiness; brazen-facedness; sauciness; sassiness

It defines 넉살이 좋다 as follows:

  • behave shamelessly [saucily]; act brazenly [audaciously]

If a foreign student of Korean were to look at just the above definitions, he might assume that 넉살이 좋다 could substitute for 뻔뻔하다, but he would be wrong because 넉살이 좋다 has a positive connotation while 뻔뻔하다 has a negative one.

넉살이 좋다 is used to refer to thick-skinned people who are not easily embarrassed or offended. Such people would probably laugh off an insult and ask questions that some may consider to be too bold or too personal.

Based on my understanding of the expression, I think I have met many Koreans who I would describe as 넉살이 좋다. For example, I would use it to describe the curious Korean taxi driver who asks questions that some might consider to be too bold or too personal. I would also use it to describe the Korean student who comes up to me on the street and asks if he or she can practice English with me. Some foreigners may be annoyed by such people and consider them to be 뻔뻔하다, but I am somewhat impressed by the boldness and straightforwardness of such people and would, therefore, probably consider them to be only 넉살이 좋다.

I am not sure of the orgin of 넉살, but I remember it by translating it as "four skins," which implies "thick skin." A thick-skinned person is someone who is "not easily offended."

Here is a Korean explanation: '넉살'과 '언죽전죽'

Monday, July 27, 2009

같지않다 is not the opposite of 같다?

같다 is an adjective that has several meanings, including the following:
  1. the same; identical (with)
  2. equal (to); uniform; equivalent (to)
  3. like; alike; as
  4. seem; appear
  5. worthy of; becoming

One might expect that 같지않다, abbreviated to 같잖다, would be the negative of 같다 and mean something like "not the same," but 같잖다 is defined as follows:

  1. foolish; silly; absurd; improper; bothersome
  2. trifle; trivial; small; slight; insignificant

Here are some example sentences using 같잖다:

  • 같잖은 물건
    a worthless object
  • 같잖은 녀석
    a good-for-nothing fellow
  • 같잖은 일로 화를 내다
    get angry at trifles
  • 같잖은 소리를 하다
    talk impudently (to); give (a person) cheek (some lip)

So, my question is this: If I were to say, 이것과 그것이 같잖다, would I be saying, "This and that are worthless," or "This and that are not the same"?

Why do Koreans say 같은 양의 물 instead of 같은 양인 물?

I was doing some research and came across the expression 같은 양의 물, which means "the same amount of water." For some reason, it got me wondering why Koreans say 같은 양의 물 instead of 같은 양인 물. They say 같은 양이다 (the same amount), so why not 같은 양인 물? I searched Google for "같은 양인 물," but got not even one hit. Even when I tried searching on 양이 같은 물, I got only one hit. What's the deal?

Whenever I see the possessive marker 의 in a phrase, it makes me think it might be a Koreanized form of a Japanese or English phrase, and I try to change it into what I think would be a more traditional style of Korean by removing the 의. For example, if I saw the phrase 같은 나이의 사람, I would want to change it to 같은 나이인 사람 or 나이 같은 사람, but according to Google, 같은 나이의 사람 is more popular with Koreans. What's the deal?

I think more and more Koreans are using 의 phrases because more and more Koreans are studying English, and 의 phrases seem to be a more direct translation of English "of" phrases. For example, 같은 양의 물 is a word-for-word translation of the English phrase," the same amount of water": 같은(the same) 양(amount) 의(of) 물(water).

I am not sure, but it seems like 의 is killing off traditional Korean expressions, like a weed kills off flowers in a garden. Maybe phrases like 같은 양의 물 (the same amount of water) and 같은 수의 물건 (the same number of items) are correct, but there is something about 의 that makes me dislike them.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The difference between 벗어지다 & 벗겨지다?

벗다 and 벗기다 can both mean "to take off" or "remove" articles of clothing, but the difference is that 벗다 is used to refer to taking off "one's own clothing" while 벗기다 is used to refer to taking off "another person's clothing." See the examples:
  • 여자가 외투을 벗었다.
    She took off her overcoat.

  • 남자가 그 여자 외투을 벗겼다.
    He helped her take off her overcoat.

벗기다 can also be used to refer to removing a covering from an object. See the examples:

  • 감자 껍질을 벗기다.
    Peel potatoes.

  • 오란지 껍질을 벗기다.
    Peel oranges.

  • 콩깍지를 벗기다.
    Shell beans.

  • 담요를 벗기다.
    Remove a blanket.

  • 녹을 벗기다.
    Remove rust.

  • 인디언들이 개척자 머리 껍질을 벗겼다.
    Indians scalped the settlers.

벗다 and 벗기다 were used as transitive verbs above since they referred to someone removing "an object." However, if you add the passive ending "~어지다" to 벗다 and 벗기다, they become the intransitive verbs 벗어지다 and 벗겨지다.

벗어지다 is used when objects fall off without outside force while 벗겨지다 is used when objects fall out with outside force. See the examples:

  • 치마가 느슨해서 자꾸 벗어진다.
    My skirt is loose, so it keeps slipping off.
  • 치마가 못에 걸려서 벗겨졌다.
    My skirt caught on a nail and was pulled off.
  • 이른 나이에 머리가 벗어졌다.
    I have gone bald prematurely.
  • 교통 사고로 머리 가죽이 벗겨졌다.
    His scalp was peeled off in the car accident.

Some Koreans mistakenly say 머리가 벗겨진다 to refer to balding, but the correct way to say it is 머리가 벗어진다 since balding refers to hair falling out without outside force. Maybe the reason that Koreans mistakenly say 머리가 벗겨진다 is that 벗기다 is also the passive of 벗다. Therefore, 머리가 벗긴다, without the ~어지다 ending, should also mean "to go bald," but my Google search could not find any examples of it.

Friday, July 24, 2009

What does 깡통(을) 차다 mean?

깡통 refers to an "empty can." 차다 can mean either "to kick" or "to attach." If you use 차다 with the meaning "to kick," then 깡통을 차다 means "to kick a can," but if you use 차다 to mean "to attach," then it refers to "begging with a tin can." To avoid confusion, it would probably be better to say "발로 깡통을 차다" when you want to say "kick a can" since 발로 means "with one's foot."

Korean beggars used to beg with dried, hollowed out goard halves, but during the Korean War and for somethime afterwards, beggers used empty tin cans (깡통) that were apparently attached (차다) to themselves in some way. Therefore, the expression 깡통을 차다 triggers images of a time during and after the Korean war rather than a time before the war.

Today, 깡통(을) 차다 is used idiomatically to mean the following:
  • to be reduced to begging
  • to go bankrupt
  • to go bust
  • to go to pot

By the way, if 깡통 means "empty can," why do Koreans call a "can opener" a 깡통 따개? Wouldn't an "empty can" already be opened? Likewise, 깡통 맥주 (can beer) does not make sense, either, since it literally means, "empty can beer."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Who is John Frankl?

Do not believe THE CLAIM that foreign adults cannot master the Korean language. The video link below is evidence that they can.

The video is an interview with 42-year-old, American John Frankl, who is an Associate Professor of Asian Literature at the Underwood International College (UIC) at Yonsei University. He started studying Korean in 1987 while majoring in English Literature at UC Berkley. He came to Korea as an exchange student in 1988 and studied for one year at Yonsei University. When he finished his undergraduate program at Berkley, he came back to Yonsei and started a Master's course in Korean Literature. He got his Master's in 1993 and then went to Harvard University, where he got his Ph.D. in 2003. He became a professor at UIC in 2005. He is not only fluent in Korean, he also has a black belt in Jiu Jitsu. Information on John Frankl

Video of Korean Interview with John Frankl

Sunday, July 19, 2009

"Is the Korean Language Scientific?"

It is often said that Hangeul (한글) is one of the most scientific alphabets in the world, but I do not think I have ever heard that the Korean language, itself, is one of the world's most scientific languages. Nevertheless, in a Korea Times article, columnist Jon Huer asked the question, "Is the Korean language scientific?" His conclusion was essentially "No." Read the article HERE.

Jon Huer wrote the following:
In truly scientific systems, there are no inner and outer circles. But the Korean language is generally considered the most secretly-guarded code system among the world's major languages. There is no way an "outsider," who is not born into this circle, can crack the code of the Korean language, no matter how long one devotes oneself to its mastery. Its grammar and syntax are capable of so much situational variation and impromptu adaptation that only the native can get the feel of the language. Anyone who is encouraged by the scientific claim and tries to learn the language soon finds that he is merely scratching the surface after years of devoted study.
Koreans used to say quite often that the Korean language was too difficult for "foreigners" (outsiders) to learn, much less master, just as Mr. Huer has said in the above quote, but I never believed that and still do not believe it. Yes, the Korean language has been difficult for me to learn, but I think the main reason for that was that most of my Korean teachers did not know how to teach the language to foreigners and did not really expect me to learn it, anyway. Plus, I was a slow learner.

You cannot expect foreigners to "crack the (Korean) code" when Koreans, themselves, are still trying to crack it. When I started learning Korean, there were not many good books explaining the language to foreigners, teaching techniques were poor, and Korean teachers, themselves, did not really seem to know enough about their language to explain the problems foreigners were having. Moreover, it seemed that Korean teachers had low expectations for foreigners' learning Korean and seemed to teach accordingly. I often got the feeling that I was being taught as if I were a young child.

My very first Korean language lesson started with the Korean instructor pointing a pointer at animals on a chart and pronouncing their names in Korean. I do not remember their being anything written under the pictures, and even if there was Korean written under the pictures, we had not yet learned to read it. We were just supposed to memorize the names of the animals by repeating them one or two times after he pronounced them. The teacher taught with little or no enthusiasm, and discouraged questions. We were just supposed to follow his instructions. Children may be able to learn that way, but not me, nor many other adults, I would think.

When I first started speaking Korean, Koreans tended not to correct me. They would just smile, nod their head, and say in English, "You speak Korean very well," even if I had only said, "Annyeonghaseyo?" With such low expectations for foreigners, is it any wonder that so few of us ever became fluent in Korean?

These days things have changed a lot. Good books are starting to come out, Koreans are learning how to teach Korean to foreigners, and Koreans are expecting more from non-native Korean speakers and are correcting them when they make mistakes.

There is nothing especially difficult about the Korean language. Foreigners can learn the language if they and their teachers are motivated and have the right teaching and learning materials. In regard to Jon Huer's claim that foreigners are incapable of mastering the Korean language, I think Mr. Huer will be eating his words in a few years.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What does 궤도(軌道) mean?

Here are the meanings of 궤도 (軌道) in my dictionary:
  1. an orbit; a circle
  2. a (railroad) track
  3. a track (in the figurative sense)

The Chinese character 軌(궤) originally referred to the distance between the wheels of a cart, which could have been determined by measuring the distance between the tracks it left on a road. The character 軌(궤) is made up of the characters 車(cart) and 九(nine). Nine was a number that the Chinese also used to mean "many." The combination of the two characters, therefore, literally meant "many carts." Many carts following the same tracks would have left a fixed set of tracks on a road, which would have been hard to deviate from, especially if they were deep tracks. Since the character 道 (도) means "road," 궤도 essentially means a "tracked road."

I assume that the idea of "orbit" developed from the fact that the tracks on a road are equal distance from each other, just as an orbiting object in space would be from the surface of the earth.

Here are the expressions my dictionary gave for 궤도.

  • 궤도 기중기 -- a gantry (crane)
  • 궤도면 -- a plane of orbit
  • 궤도를 벗어나다 -- go out of orbit
  • 궤도 부설 -- track construction
  • 궤도 비행 -- an orbital flight
  • 궤도 속도 -- an orbital velocity
  • 궤도 운동 -- an orbital motion
  • 궤도에 오르다 -- be started along the right lines
  • 궤도에 올라 있다 -- be well under way
  • 궤도에 올리다 -- set (a business corporation) on its way
  • 궤도 체류 연수 -- orbital life
  • 궤도축 -- the axis of an orbit
  • 궤도 표시기 -- a track indicator
  • 극궤도 -- a polar orbit
  • 단선 궤도 -- a single track
  • 달 궤도 -- a lunar orbit
  • 대기 궤도 -- a parking orbit
  • 복선 궤도 -- a double railroad track
  • 위성을 궤도에 올려놓다 -- put a satellite into orbit
  • 위성의 궤도를 수정하다 -- adjust the orbit of a satellite
  • 원궤도 -- circular orbit
  • 인공 위성이 궤도에 올랐다 -- The satellite has gone into orbit.
  • 전기 궤도 -- an electric tramway
  • 전위 궤도 -- transfer orbit
  • 정지 궤도 -- a geostationary orbit
  • 주기 궤도 -- a synchronous orbit
  • 지구 궤도 -- the earth's orbit
  • 타원 궤도 -- the elliptic orbit
  • 편심 궤도 -- an eccentric orbit

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

값없다 -- Priceless or worthless?

"Priceless" refers to something that is so rare or unique that people would not sell it for any price. "Worthless," on the other hand, refers to something so common or something of so poor quality that people would not pay anything for it. Therefore, priceless and worthless have completely opposite meanings. However, in Korean, the adjective 값없다 is used for both words, so to figure out which meaning is being used, you have to look at the rest of the sentence.

  • 너무 귀해서 값없다.
    It is so rare that it is priceless.
  • 너무 흔해서 값없다.
    It is so common that it is worthless.

Also, 값없다 is an adjective, not a verb, so when you use it in front of a noun, shouldn't it be written as 값없은 instead of 값없는? If you do a Google search on 값없은 and 값없는, you will find that both forms are being used. Which is the correct form? The example sentence in my Korean dictionary is 값없는 물건 (a worthless object), but shouldn't it be 값없은 물건 since 값없다 is an adjective?

The opposite of 없다 (to not exist) is 있다 (to exist), but 있다 is a verb while 없다 is an adjective. Why? Even though 없다 is an adjective, my dictionary and many Koreans write 없는 instead of 없은. Again, why?

Why? Why? Why? Why is Korean so inscrutable, sometimes?

By the way, 값없다 is pronounced as /갑업따/, which is actually pronounced as /가법따/.

What's the difference between 할 때 & 했을 때?

I was reading an explanation of the Korean expression "끽 소리도 못하다" and came across the following sentence:

"끽"은 놀라거나 당황했을 때 힘을 다하여 내지르는 외마디소리를 나타내는 부사이다.

The adverb "ggik" is a short scream that is made when one is surprised or in a panic.
Notice that the Korean says 당황했을 때 instead of 당황할 때. Why?

Shouldn't it be 당황할 때 since 나타내는 implies that Koreans still use the scream? If 끽 were a scream that Koreans used in the past but no longer use, then 당황했을 때 would make sense to me, but since Koreans still scream 끽 when they are surprised, I think 당황할 때 would be more appropriate. Am I missing something here?

The expression came from a book entitled "우리말 숙어 1000 가지."

Monday, July 13, 2009

Is 살다 a verb or an adjective?

살다 means "to live," in both the sense of "to be alive" and in the sense of "to reside (somewhere)." It is an intransitive verb (자동사), not an adjective, so why do Koreans seem to use it as if it were an adjective (형용사)? Even my dictionary does it. What is the deal?

My dictionary gives the following example for the verb 살다 (to be alive).
산 짐승을 함부로 죽이면 안 된다.
You should not indiscriminately kill live animals
In the sentence, 산 짐승 is used to mean "live animals," but this is not following the rules for using verbs to modify nouns.

In Korean, there are 동작동사 (action verbs) and 상태동사 (static verbs). Even though both names use the word "verb," 상태동사 (static verbs) are referring to what we would generally call "adjectives" in English. Therefore, 가다 (to go) would be a 동작동사, and 예쁘다 (pretty) would be a 상태동사.

In Korean, 동작동사 (action verbs) and 상태동사 (static verbs) can both be used to modify nouns, but the forms are different. The forms for action verbs are more complicated, so let's start with the forms for static verbs, which are simpler.

To modify a noun with a 상태동사 (static verb), just add ㄴ or 은 to the static verb stem. If the verb ends in a vowel, add ㄴ; and if it ends in a consonant, add 은:

  • 예쁜 여자
    pretty girl
  • 작은 집
    small house
Static verbs (상태동사) generally do not change with time. Though a pretty girl may age, in the short term, her beauty does not change. For example, if she was pretty yesterday, she will be pretty now, and she will be pretty tomorrow. Also, if a house was small yesterday, it will be small now, and it will be small tomorrow. Therefore, when using static verbs, there is usually no need to use different forms to distinguish verb tense. However, when using action verbs to modify nouns, there is a time distinction.

When using action verbs (동작동사) to modify nouns, Koreans add 는 to the verb stem when the action is ongoing, ㄴ/은 when the action is completed, and ㄹ/을 when the action is in the future.
  • 가는 사람
    the man that is going
  • 간 사람
    the man that went
  • 갈 사람
    the man that will go
Now, since 살다 (to live) is an action verb, it should follow the same rules as 가다 (to go) and distinguish verb tenses. Therefore, 살다 examples should be as follows:
  • 사는 동물
    an animal that is living
  • 산 동물
    an animal that lived (in the past)
  • 살 동물
    an animal that will live (in the future)

Now, let's look again at my dictionary's example sentence for 살다:

산 짐승을 함부로 죽이면 안 된다.
You should not indiscriminately kill live animals

If we consider the rules for using action verbs to modify nouns, then wouldn't 산 동물 be referring to animals that used to live but are no longer alive? How can someone kill an animal that is no longer living?

Why are Korean dictionaries using 살다 as an adjective when it is listed as a verb?

Likewise, why do Koreans say "산오징어" instead of "사는 오징어" to refer to "live squid"?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Is this what "머리에 쥐가 나다" means?

How is it different from a headache?

머리에 쥐가 나다 is used when one has a problem that weighs on one's mind. It does not refer to physical head pain. I think it could be translated as, "I have a problem that is bothering me."

Thursday, July 09, 2009

How many different ways can rice be described?

Can you fill in the blank?
  • 밥이 _______________.

Suggested Answers

  1. 밥이 질다.
    The rice is mushy.
  2. 밥이 꼬들꼬들하다"
    The rice is hard and dry. (Thanks Surfyam.)
  3. .

Can you read handwritten Hangeul?

Do Koreans really say things like this?

This is the beginning of a list of expressions I come across that seem a little strange to me and that I am a little suspicious of. As I get answers, I will write "Solved" and what I have learned under each expression. Please feel free to comment.

  • 발에 땀이 나도록 뛰다 -- Run until your feet sweat.
    SOLVED: I thought this expression was strange because we do not have to run very far for our feet to start sweating. I have learned that this expression probably came from 개발에 땀나다, which means "sweat on a dog's foot." Dogs do not really sweat except for places like around their ears and on the pads of their paws, but a dog would have to run pretty hard before one would notice the pads of its paws sweating, so Koreans use 개발에 땀나다 to emphasize that someone is doing something, such as working or running, especially hard. The following is an example of how it can be used:

    * 개발에 땀나겠다. 좀 쉬어가면서 해라.
    A dog's paw would sweat. Do it while taking some breaks.
  • 머리에 쥐가 나도록 뛰다 -- Run until your head cramps.

    SOLVED: 쥐 means "cramp" or "charley horse," so the above expression seemed strange since I had never heard of someone getting a cramp in their head. However, I have been told, and one of our commenters has confirmed, that 머리에 쥐가 나다 does not refer to a physcial cramp, but to a mental cramp. In other words, it is used when someone has a perplexing problem weighing on his or her mind. Therefore, I think 머리에 쥐가 나다 could be translated as, "I have a problem that is bothering me," which suggests that it was used inappropriately in the above sentence.

    Apparently, even some Koreans are confused by the expression, judging from comments HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Are you a Super Expatriate Man?

This is a little off topic, but I love it.

By the way, in Texas, we also use the Canadian spelling.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

What's the difference between 끄다 & 꺼뜨리다?

끄다 means "put out a fire" or "extinguish." Here are some examples:
  • 불을 밟아서 끄다 -- stamp out a fire
  • 촛불을 불어 끄다 -- blow out a candle
  • 물을 끼얹어 불을 끄다 -- put out a fire with water
  • 담요로 덮어 불을 끄다 -- smother a fire with a blanket
  • 두들겨서 불을 끄다 -- beat out a fire

끄다 can also mean to "switch off (a light or an electrical appliance)" or "turn off (an engine)"

  • 불을 끄다 -- turn off the light
  • 텔레비전을 끄다 -- turn off the TV
  • 시동을 끄다 -- stop [kill] the engine

When you say 불을 끄다 (put out the fire), you are saying that a fire or light is put out or turned off intentionally, but when you say 불을 꺼뜨리다, you are saying that a fire goes out by mistake. Here is the definition of 꺼뜨리다.

꺼뜨리다 -- put out a fire [light] by mistake; let the fire [candle light] go out (by mistake)

  • 불을 꺼뜨리지 않다 -- keep the fire from going out
  • 불씨를 꺼뜨려 버렸다 -- Now there is no live coal to start the fire.

Since 꺼뜨리다 implies a mistake, it is usually used in the negative form to warn against making that mistake, so 꺼뜨리지 마세요 (Don't let the fire go out) makes sense, but 꺼뜨리세요 (Let the fire go out by accident) does not. Therefore, if you want to tell someone to put out a fire, you would say "불을 꺼주세요," not "불을 꺼뜨리세요."

Here are the sentences to remember:

  • 불을 꺼주세요 -- Put the fire out (intentionally).
  • 불을 끄지 마세요 -- Don't put the fire out.
  • 불을 꺼뜨리지 마세요 -- Don't let the fire go out (by accident).
  • 불을 꺼뜨리지 않다 -- [I] won't let the fire go out.

The difference between 꺼뜨리지 않다 and 꺼뜨리지 말다, I assume, is that you use 꺼뜨리지 않다 when you are promising that you or someone else will not let the fire go out, and you use 꺼뜨리지 말다 when you are telling someone not to let the fire go out. 말다 is used for commands, and you would not give yourself a command.

Also, for me, 꺼뜨리다 is somewhat confusing because of such words as 떨어뜨리다, which means "to drop (something)," either intentionally or unintentionally.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Will talking like a baby make me more fluent?

I used to think the Korean language was one of the most difficult languages in the world, but I have recently had a revelation. The key to learning Korean is remembering how to talk like a child.

One of the great things about the Korean language is its thriftiness. The language allows you to drop unnecessary words, and, in fact, the more frugal you are with your words, the more fluent you will likely sound. If the listener already knows the subject of the sentence, don't bother saying it. If the listener already knows the object of the sentence, skip that part. If you use an adverb that is normally associated with a particular verb, don't waste your breath saying the verb.

If a young American child wants something, he or she points and says, "Give," and we understand, so why must an American adult say, "Give it to me"?

In Korean, it is perfectly acceptable for a Korean adult to say, "Give," which in Korean is 주세요. Actually, it means "Please give," but I will leave off the "please" for simplicity sake. It is so simple that it is elegant.

Now, work on your fluency by doing some baby talk with "Give."
  • 하나 주세요 -- One give.
  • 물 주세요 -- Water give
  • 지금 주세요 -- Now give.
  • 내일 주세요 -- Tomorrow give.
  • 빨리 주세요 -- Fast give.
  • 싸게 주세요 -- Cheaply give.

You generally do not need to clarify to whom to give something, but if you do, that it easy, too. Just add 한테 to a noun or pronoun to show who will be the receiver.

  • 나한테 주세요 -- To me give.
  • 그 여자한테 주세요 -- To her give.
  • 아버지한테 주세요 -- To father give.
  • 우리한테 주세요. To us give.
  • 그들한테 주세요. To them give.

Also, if you want to add a direct object (the object to be given) to the above sentences, that is also easy because you just attach the direct object marker 을 or 를 to the noun to show it is the direct object of the sentence. If the Korean noun ends in a consonant, use 을 (e.g. 물을 - water), and if it ends in a vowel, use 를 (e.g. 차를 - tea). However, you would sound more fluent by not using 을/를 in the above sentences since Koreans would recognize the direct object without the marker, especially since the indirect object is already marked with 한테. Remember to always try to be frugal with your words.

Also, a direct object can go almost anyway in a Korean sentence, depending on what you want to stress. See the following:

  • 나한테 물 주세요. -- To me water give.
  • 물 나한테 주세요. -- Water to me give
  • 나한테 주세요, 물. -- To me give, water.

주세요 can also be used with other verbs to ask favors and make requests. For example, 해주세요 is a combination of the verbs 하다 (to do) and 주다 (to give), but together they mean "Do it for me" or "Do it (for mother or some other implied beneficiary of the request.)" The pattern is [-어/아/여] 주세요.

  • 해주세요 -- Do (it for me).
  • 써주세요 -- Write (it for me).
  • 읽어 주세요 -- Read (it for me).
  • 도와주세요 -- Help (me).
  • 서주세요 -- Stop (the car or taxi and let me off here).
  • 내려주세요 -- Let (me) down; Let (me) get off (the bus here).

Doesn't the Korean look easier than the English? 주세요 is just one of many baby talk words in Korean. 있어요 is another, but I will save that for another day.

My advice is that if you want to be fluent in Korean, stop thinking like an adult and start talking like a baby. In general, the more thrifty your Korean sentences, the more fluent you will sound.

Don't we all like free 반찬?

It is nice to see evidence of people enjoying their stay in Korea. A note on the video asks that it not be posted on the Internet, but then adds, "especially not on Pandora," which is a Korean video posting site the singer apparently feels discriminates against foreigners. I will assume that the singer has changed his mind about posting the video on the Internet since I found it on YouTube, and I will also assume he does not consider my blog to discrimate against foreigners.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

What does 驢不勝怒蹄之 mean?

As people who read this blog probably already know, I am a novice, at best, when it comes to reading classical Chinese, but I am still fascinated by what little I do know because it gives me new insight into the Korean language. The following Chinese sentence is a good example:

驢不勝怒蹄之 (려불승노제지)
The donkey was so angry that it kicked it.

驢 (려) -- donkey
不 (불) -- not
勝 (승) -- win
怒 (노) -- anger
蹄 (제) -- hoof; kick with a hoof
之 (지) -- it

One thing about the above sentence that interests me is that it used the noun "hoof" (蹄) as a verb meaning "to kick with a hoof." From what I have read HERE, one of the common features of classical Chinese was that some nouns could be used as both nouns and verbs and even other parts of speech. The position of the character in the sentence would clue you as to what part of speech it was being used.

Yes, it is interesting that nouns could be used as verbs in classical Chinese, but what really interested me about the above sentence was the phrase 不勝怒 (불승노), which means "unable to defeat anger." That interesed me because the Korean language has a similar expression: 분노를 이기지 못해. Did the Koreans learn the phrase from the Chinese?

In Korean, the above Chinese sentence would be translated as follows:

당나귀가 분노를 이기지 못해 발굽으로 찼다.

The general meaning is that the donkey was unable to control an emotion that caused it to do something that it would not normally do. Other feelings and emotions that sometimes cannot be controlled or overcome (defeated) are as follows:
  • 감정을 이기지 못해 -- unable to overcome the emotions
  • 고통을 이기지 못해 -- unable to overcome the pain
  • 괴로움을 이기지 못해 -- unable to overcome the distress
  • 궁금증을 이기지 못해 -- unable to overcome the curiosity
  • 그리움을 이기지 못해 -- unable to overcome the longing (yearning)
  • 부담을 이기지 못해 -- unable to overcome the burden
  • 불안감을 이기지 못해 -- unable to overcome the sense of unease
  • 수치심을 이기지 못해 -- unable to overcome the sense of shame
  • 스트레스를 이기지 못해 -- unable to overcome the stress
  • 슬픔을 이기지 못해 -- unable to overcome the sadness
  • 외로움을 이기지 못해 -- unable to overcome the loneliness
  • 욕망을 이기지 못해 -- unable to overcome the greed
  • 우울증을 이기지 못해 -- unable to overcome the depression
  • 유혹을 이기지 못해 -- unable to overcome the temptation
  • 절망감을 이기지 못해 -- unable to overcome the despair
  • 정욕을 이기지 못해 -- unable to overcome the passion (lust)
  • 질투를 이기지 못해 -- unable to overcome the jealousy
  • 충격을 이기지 못해 -- unable to overcome the shock
  • 충동을 이기지 못해 -- unable to overcome the impulse
  • 호기심을 이기지 못해 -- unable to overcome the curiosity
By the way, in the United States, "hoof it" means "to walk," not to kick with a hoof.