Monday, February 20, 2017

Why is 唜 pronounced as both "말" and "끗" ?

Koreans created the character to represent the pure Korean syllable sound of "끗" or "끝," both of which are pronounced /끋/. The character was used for pure Korean personal and place names. The 末 (말) portion of the character means "end," which translates in Korean as "끝," so when it is used to mean "end," the character is pronounced "말," but when it is used to represent the pure Korean syllable sound, it is pronounced "끗."

The 叱 (질) portion of the character means "to scold" or "to shout at," but, when used as part of other characters, it is used to  represent the ending consonants "ㅅ," "ㅆ," "ㅈ," "ㅊ," or "ㅌ," all of which are pronounced /ㄷ/ when they come at the end of a Korean syllable. The 叱 essentially tells us the character is being used to represent a pure Korean syllable sound ending in one of the ending consonants just mentioned, and 末 tell us the sound is the same as the pure Korean word that means "end," which could be 끝 or 끗 since both words have the same sound. I am a little suspicious of the character being used to mean "end" since the character 末 (말) means the same thing and is much easier to write.

Here is a list of other characters with 叱 (질) in them that represent pure Korean syllable sounds that end in one of the following consonants: "ㅅ," "ㅆ," "ㅈ," "차," or "ㅌ." Even though all the syllable sounds shown below end in ㅅ, the characters also represent the sounds of any syllables ending in one of the consonants just mentioned since the ending consonant sound would be the same as those that end in "ㅅ."
  • 㖙 (갓) -- 加 (가) + 叱 (질) = the sound /갓/
  • 㖋 (갯) -- 介 (개) + 叱 (질) = the sound /갯/
  • 唟 (것) -- 去 (거) + 叱 (질) = the sound /것/
  • 㖜 (곳) -- 高 (고) + 叱 (질) = the sound /곳/; the 叱 replaces the 冋 (경)
  • 㖛 (곳) -- 古 (고) + 叱 (질) = the sound /곳/
  • 廤 (곳) -- 庫 (고) + 叱 (질) = the sound /곳/
  • 蒊 (곳) -- 花 (화) + 叱 (질) = the sound /곳/; 花 means "flower" (꽃), so why not /꼿/?
  • 㖌 (굿) -- 仇 (구) + 叱 (질) = the sound /굿/
  • 莻 (늦) -- 艿 (잉) + 叱 (질) = the sound /늦/; 莻 (늦) also means "늦다" (late), so /늦/
  • 㘏 (돗) -- 道 (도) + 叱 (질) = the sound /돗/
  • 㖍 (둣) -- 斗 (두) + 叱 (질) = the sound /둣/
  • 㖚 (붓) -- 付 (줄) + 叱 (질) = the sound /붓/
  • 㕾 (솟) -- 小 (소) + 叱 (질) = the sound /솟/
  • 㘒 (씻/씨) -- 種 (종) + 叱 (질) = the sound /씻 or 씨/; 種 (종) means "seed," or "씨" in pure Korean
  • 厑 (앳) -- 厓 (애) + 叱 (질) = the sound /앳/; the 叱 replaces the 圭 (규)
  • 旕 (엇) -- 於 (어) + 叱 (질) = the sound /엇/
  • 㖳 (엿) -- 汝 (여) + 叱 (질) = the sound /엿/
  • 㖲 (엿) -- 如 (여) + 叱 (질) = the sound /엿/
  • 夞 (욋) -- 外 (외) + 叱 (질) = the sound /욋/
  • 㗡 (잇) -- 芿 (잉) + 叱 (질) = the sound /잇/; the 叱 replaces the "ㅇ" ending sound
  • 㗯 (잣) -- 者 (자) + 叱 (질) = the sound /잣/
  • 巼 (팟) -- 巴 (파) + 叱 (질) = the sound /팟/
  • 喸 (폿) -- 甫 (포) + 叱 (질) = the sound /폿/
When 叱 (질) is at the top of a character, it seems to represent syllables with initial double consonant sounds. Consider the following:
  • 㖰 (똥) -- 叱 (질) + 同 (동) = the sound /똥/
  • 哛 (뿐) -- 叱 (질) + 分 (분) = the sound /뿐/
However, even though 叱 (질) at the top of the character 㖎 (갯), the character is pronounced "갯," not "깻," which makes me suspicious, especially since the character 㖋 (갯) already represents the sound "갯." In other words, why would they need 㖎 (갯) if they already have 㖋 (갯)? There may be no need for the "깻" sound now, but maybe there was a need in the distant past. Anyway, it makes me wonder.


  1. I really enjoyed this post! The variety of your last few posts in particular has been a pleasure to read. Do you have any book recommendations for getting into Old or Middle Korean? I have always found older Korean fascinating and would really like to delve into it more but it's hard to know where to begin (such as pronunciation of old 한글, grammar, 이두, etc.). I really admire your passion and knowledge about older Korean and 한자! A book you would likely enjoy (if you don't already have it) is 우리말 어원사전 by 백문식. It's a great book to have nearby to flip through whenever you have a spare moment. I learn something new every time I open it. I'd be curious to hear your opinion of it if you've read through it before.

  2. Thank you, Mathieu. Unfortunately, I cannot recommend any books on old or Middle Korean because I am still working my way up to that level of study. My source for my two recent posts on the Chinese characters that represented Korean sounds was Naver's Online Chinese Character Dictionary. I came across an article on 손돌바람 or 손돌풍 (孫乭風) and become interested in the character 乭(돌). From there I went to Naver and found a list of similar characters. It was that simple. So, what I recommend it Naver's Online Dictionary, but I do have one book I would like to recommend. Though it does not have anything to do with old Korean, I think it is a good book for foreign Korean language learners.

    The books is called "우리말 숙어 1000 가지," and it explains 1,000 common Korean idioms in very clear, easy-to-understand detail, something I think many foreign learners of Korean would really appreciate. In fact, reading the explanations of the idioms might be more interesting than the idioms themselves since they are not only good models for correct grammar usage, but also clear descriptions of each word used in the idiom. It also gives examples of the idioms used in sentences. If you want a good "flip-through" book, this is a great one for foreign learners. For example, I just now randomly opened the book to a page that has the idiom "몸을 사리다." Here is how it is described:

    '사리다'는 국수나 실 등 길게 이어진 것을 쓰기 편하게 한 뭉치로 감는 것을 말한다. 그렇게 준비해놓은 국수 한 뭉치를 '사리'라고도 한다. 또한 뱀이 그런 모양으로 몸을 마는 것도 '사리다'라는 표현을 쓴다. '몸을 다른 사람들이 보지 못하도록 움츠리거나 감추다', '위험이나 어려운 일이 닥쳤을 때 맞닥뜨리지 않고 살살 빠져나갈 구석을 찾으며 몸을 이끼다'라는 뜻이다.

    - 형사들이 접근하자 벽 쪽으로 몸을 사린 그는 그들이 한눈을 파는 사이 도망 나왔다.
    - 그 녀석은 엄살이 심해서 조금 힘든 일만 있으면 몸을 사리는 통에 같이 다니는 친구가 애를 먹는다.

    If you are like me, reading the definition is a good language-builder in itself. As for your book recommendation, the title sounds like something I would be interested in, but I would have to look through it first before deciding since it is a little expensive. Also, I think I have some similar books, though not nearly as thick as the one you are talking about.

    By the way, for cheapskates who are interested in Korean word origins (어원), they can go to Naver's 국어사전 and type in "어원." That will give them a list of words that have "어원" in their definitions, which means they are definitions that also give the origins of the words.

  3. Thank you very much for the detailed response, Gerry! I absolutely agree about reading the definitions of words in the target language for building language skills. I try to make the shift to monolingual dictionaries in the target language as soon as possible and that was certainly one of the things that helped me advance in Korean relatively quickly and start working as a translator after around 3 to 4 years of self-study.

    I have flipped through the book that you recommended in the library and it is indeed an entertaining and interesting book to have nearby and flip through. I might go ahead and buy a copy now that you've reminded me of it. I was less impressed with their 우리말 어원 500 가지 in the same series because it felt too flimsy in terms of scholarship, with a lot of what appeared to be more like 'folk etymologies' than actual etymologies derived from serious, thorough research. Also, there were no sources cited whatsoever, which for me is a bit of a red flag in books dealing with history (in this case, the history of language). The one I mentioned, on the other hand, has a good list of sources at the back (as well as in the individual entries). I also like that he's done research on loanwords from Mongolian, Tungusic languages, etc. which tend to be neglected in some of the less rigorous books on etymology. I highly recommend making the investment- it's another one that's very handy and informative to have nearby! You certainly won't regret spending the money.

    Anyway, thank you for another informative post and for kindly taking time to respond!