59 – 水 – Watered Down Hanja

Originally published January 2018

This month we are going to look at the character 水 which is pronounced 수(“Su”) in Korean and which means ‘water’. Many common Korean words have this character in them, and learning the meaning of this character will help you remember these words.

Hanja Su Water

For example the word 향수 (香水 – “Hyang-su”) means perfume or cologne.
The first part of the word 향 (香 – “Hyang”) means ‘fragrance’ and the second part 수 (水 – “Su”) means ‘water’. Together the combined word literally means “fragrance-water”.

Example Sentence:
어떤 향수를 쓰세요?
(“Eo-ddeon Hyang-hu-reul Sseu-se-yo?”)
What kind of perfume do you wear?

The word 음료수 (飮料水 – “Eum-ryo-su”) means drink or beverage. The first part of the word 음 (飮 – “Eum”) means ‘drink’. The second part of the word 료 (料 – “Ryo”) means ‘ingredient’ and the final part 수 (水 – “Su”) means ‘water’.

Example Sentence:
음료수 드시겠습니까?
(“Eum-ryo-su Deu-shi-gess-seub-ni-gga?”)
Would you like something to drink?

The word 수영 (水泳 – “Su-yeong”) means swimming. The first part 수 (水 – “Su”) means water and the second part 영 (泳 – “Yeong”) means ‘to swim’.

Example Sentence:
수영 잘 하세요?
(“Su-yeong Jal Ha-se-yo?”)
Do you swim well?

The word 호수 (湖水 – “Ho-su”) means lake. The first part of the word 호 (湖 – “Ho”) means ‘lake’ and the second part 수 (水 – “Su”) means ‘water’.

Example Sentence:
남자가 호수에서 수영하고 있다.
(“Nam-ja-ga Ho-su E-seo Su-yeong Ha-go Iss-da”)
The man is swimming in the lake.

The word 수준 (水準 – “Su-jun”) means ‘level’ or ‘standard’. The first part 수 (水 – “Su”) means ‘water’ and the second part 준 (準 – ‘Jun’) means ‘standard’ or ‘criteria’. This word originally referred to measuring the water level (like of a river) but eventually came to mean ‘level’ or ‘standard’ in general.

Example Sentence:
그 사람 수준에 맞추기는 참 힘들다
(“Geu Sa-ram Su-jun-e Maj-chu-gi-neun Cham Him-deul-da”)
It’s tough to meet his standard.

Finally, the word 풍수(風水 – “Pung-su”) is a word that most westerners know from its Chinese pronunciation: Feng Shui. The first part 풍 (風 – “Pung”) means ‘wind’ and the second part 수 (水 – “Su”) means ‘water’. So Feng Shui literally “Wind+Water”. The use of Feng Shui in Korea dates back to the Three Kingdoms period where it was used to determine the location of houses, palaces, tombs, and even whole towns.

Example Sentence:
그는 풍수에 밝다
(“Geu-neun Pung-su-e Balk-da”)
He’s good at Feng Shui.

Here are some other common Korean words that use this character:

강수량 (降水量 – “Gang-su-ryang”): Amount of rainfall, precipitation
수도꼭지 (水道- – “Su-do-ggok-ji”): Faucet
수돗물 (水道- – “Su-dos-mul”): Tap water
수요일 (水曜日 – “Su-yo-il”): Wednesday
육수 (肉水 – “Yuk-su”) Meat broth
잠수함 (潛水艦 – “Jam-su-ham”): Submarine
홍수 (洪水 – “Hong-su”): Flood, deluge

I hope that learning the meaning of 수 (水 – “Su”) will make learning this vocabulary words easier.

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58 – 年 – Five Years of Hanja Time!

In the winter 2012 Jini Shim announced that she was looking for people who wanted to write articles for the local Korean American Community Magazine, and in December of that year the very first Hanja time article was published. This month marks the five year anniversary, and to celebrate, we will look at the character 年 which means ‘year’ and can either be pronounced 년 (“Neon”) or 연 (“Yeon”), depending on the word, as we will see below.

hanja nyeon year

For example, the word 금년 (今年 – “Geum-nyeon”) means ‘this year’. The first character 今 (금 – “Geum”) means ‘now’, and the second character 年 (년 – “Nyeon”) means ‘year’. So together the word literally means ‘now-year’.

Similarly, the word 내년 (來年 – “Nae-nyeon”) means ‘next year’. The first character 來 (내 – “Nae”) means ‘next’ and the second character 年 (년 – “Nyeon”) means ‘year’.

The word 매년 (每年 – “Mae-nyeon”) means ‘every year’ or ‘annually’. The first character 每 (매 —“Mae”) means ‘every’, and once again the second character 年 (년 – “Nyeon”) means ‘year’.

The word 연말 (年末 – “Yeon-mal”) means ‘year-end’. Notice that this time the first character 年 is pronounced 연 (“Yeon”) rather than 년 (“Nyeon”). The second character in this word 末 (말 – “Mal”) means ‘end’.

The final word we will look at is 중년 (中年 – “Jung-nyeon”) which means ‘middle age, midlife’. The first character 中 (중 – “Jung”) means ‘middle’ and the second character 年 (년 – “Nyeon”) means year. Together, the word literally means “the middle years”.

Here are some other common words with the character 年 in them:

년도 (年度 – “Nyeon-do”): A year
년생 (年生 – “Nyeon-seng”): Year as in “3rd year” or “4th year”
소년 (少年 – “So-nyeon”): A boy
수년 (數年 – “Su-nyeon”): Several years
연간 (年間 – “Yeon-gan”): Annual
연세 (年歲 – “Yeon-se”): One’s age
작년 (昨年 – “Jak-nyeon”): Last year
재작년 (再昨年 – “Jae-jak-nyeon”): The year before last
청년 (靑年 – “Cheong-nyeon”): Young man, young people, youth
학년 (學年 – “Hak-nyeon”): Grade level, year

Before I finish I want to send a very warm thank you to Editor Seo (서 국장님) for continue to allow me to write this article and to Jini Shim, who proofreads the article every month (for five years!) and always manages to find at least one mistake! It has been an honor to work with you both and I hope that someday I can repay all of the kindness you have shown me.

 

 

57 – 所 – So this is the place

Originally published November 2017

This month we are going to look at the character 所 which is pronounced 소(“So”) in Korean and which means ‘place’. It also has the meaning “That which is ____”. We will take a look at the words where it means ‘place’ first, since these are the easiest to recognize.

Hanja So Place

For example, the word 사무소 (事務所 – “Sa-mu-so”) means office.
It is a combination of 사무(事務- “Sa-mu”) which means ‘office work’ and 소 (所 – “So”) which means place. So together the combined word literally means “office-work-place”.

Example Sentence:
해당 지역의 발권 사무소에 문의하십시오.
(“Hae-dang Ji-yeok-eui Bal-gwon Sa-mu-so-e Mun-ui-ha-ship-shi-o”)
Please contact your local ticket office.

The word 세탁소 (洗濯所- “Se-tak-so”) means cleaners (as in a place that cleans clothes, like a dry cleaner). It is formed by combining 세탁 (洗濯- “Se-tak”) which means laundry and 소 (所 – “So”) which means place. Together the combined word literally means “laundry-place”.

Example Sentence:
현주는 세탁소에서 일했다.
(“Hyun-ju-neun Se-tak-so-e-seo Il-het-da”)
Hyun Joo worked at the dry cleaner’s.

 

The word 연구소 (硏究所 – “Yeon-gu-so”) means research laboratory. The first part 연구 (硏究 – “Yeon-gu”) means research, and the second part 소 (所 – “So”) which means place. When combined the word literally means ‘research-place’.

Example Sentence:
연구소에서 샘플이 오기를 기다리는 중이에요.
(“Yeon-gu-so E-seo Saem-pul-i O-gi-reul Gi-da-ri-neun Jung-i-e-yo”)
We’re still waiting for some samples to come back from the lab.

Here are some more common words where 所 (소 – “So”) means place:
숙소 (宿所 – “Suk-so”): Lodging
이발소 (理髮所 – “I-bal-so”): Barbershop
장소 (場所 – “Jang-so”): Place, spot, location
주소 (住所 – “Ju-so”): Address
파출소 (派出所 – “Pa-chul-so”): Police substation, Police box

Next we will look at the second definition of 所 (소 – “So”) where it takes the meaning of ‘that which is ____’.

Our first example will be the word 소망 (所望 – “So-mang”) which is a noun that means ‘a wish’. The first character 所 (소 – “So”) means ‘that which is ____’ and the second character 望 (망 – “Mang”) means ‘to wish’. The resulting word 소망 (所望 – “So-mang”) literally means ‘that which is wished for’.

The word 소문 (所聞 – “So-mun”) means rumor. The first character 所 (소 – “So”) means ‘that which is ____’ and the second character 聞 (문 – “Mun”) means ‘to hear’. The resulting combination 소문 (所聞 – “So-mun”) literally means ‘that which is heard’.

The word 소용 (所用 – “So-yong”) means usefulness. The first character 所 (소 – “So”) means “that which is ____” and the second character 用 (용 – “Yong”) means ‘to use’. The result is 소용 (所用 – “So-yong”) or ‘that which is used’.

The word 소위 (所謂 – “So-wi”) means ‘so-called’. Once again, the first character 所 (소 – “So”) means “that which is ____” and the second character 謂 (위 – “Wi”) means ‘to-call’. By combining the characters we get the resulting word 소위 (所謂 – “So-wi”) whose literal meaning is ‘that which is called’.

Here are some other common Korean words that follow the same pattern:

소득 (所得 – “So-deuk”): Income, earnings. Literally ‘that which is earned’.

소속 (所屬 – “So-sok”): Affiliation. Literally ‘that which is joined’.

소원 (所願 – “So-won”): Wish, hope.  Literally ‘that which is wished for”.

소유 (所有 – “So-yu”): Ownership, possession. Literally “that which is owned”.

소중 (所重): Precious, valuable, dear. Literally ‘that which is heavy’.

 

I admit that this month’s Hanja Time was a bit more complicated than most because of that second definition of 所 (소 – “So”) which in Chinese was used as a verb modifier. That a Chinese grammatical marker could find its way into so many Korean vocabulary words is pretty interesting!

Special thanks to Fan Champagne for confirming the Chinese grammar structure was correct!

56 – 方 – A New Direction

Originally published October 2017

This month we are going to look at the character 方 which can mean angle, edge, corner, or direction. This character is pronounced 방 (generally anglicized as “bang” but rhymes with “long” or “wrong”) in Korean. This character can be found in many Korean words, and knowing its meaning will help you learn these words.

hanja bang angle edge direction.jpg

For example the word 사방 (四方 – “Sa-bang”) means in all directions, or all around.
The first character 四 (사-“Sa”) means four. The second character 方 (방 – “Bang”) means direction. So together the combined word literally means “four-directions”

Example Sentence:
불이 사방으로 옮아갔다
(“Bul-I Sa-bang-eu-ro Olm-a-gat-da”)
The fire spread in all directions.

The word 방향 (方向-“Bang-hyang”) means direction or way. The first character 方 (방 – “Bang”) means direction. The second character 向 (향 – “Hyang”) means to face. You would use this word when talking about going, pointing, or looking in a certain direction.

Example Sentence:
그들은 같은 방향을 바라보고 있다.
(“Geu-deul-eun Gat-eun Bang-hyang-eul Ba-ra-bo-go It-da”)
They are looking in the same direction.

 

The word 상대방 (相對方-“Sang-dae-bang”) is a common word that is a little difficult to explain. It basically means ‘the other person’, or the ‘person opposite of you’ or ‘your ‘opponent’. The first character 相 (상-“Sang”) means mutual. The second character 對 (대-“dae”) means to face or a pair or couple. The third character 方 (방 – “Bang”) means direction. When put together it has the meaning ‘mutual-facing-direction’ or two people facing each other.

Example Sentence:
그가 상대방을 향해 돌진했다.
(“Geu-ga Sang-dae-bang-eul Hyang-hae Dol-jin Haet-da”)
He lunged at his adversary.

The next two words are confusing because they are just the same two characters but with their order swapped. The word 금방 (今方-“Geum-bang”) means ‘about to happen’ or ‘in a second’ and 방금 (方今-“Bang-geum”): ‘just happened’ or ‘a second ago’. Notice that both words have the same characters, but in opposite order. In both words I think that 방 (方 – “Bang”) takes on the meaning of ‘edge’, like on the edge of something about to happen. The other character 今 (금 – “Geum”) means now. Both words are on the ‘edge’ or ‘now’. 방금 (方今-“Bang-geum”) just happened so it is just before ‘now’ and금방 (今方-“Geum-bang”) is about to happen so it is just after ‘now’. Can you blame me for getting them confused?

One final word that I think is very interesting is the word 지방 (地方 – “Ji-bang”) which refers to essentially any area in Korea that isn’t Seoul- i.e. the provinces. You might use this word to say you were going to the countryside to visit your relative. It can also mean ‘local’ or ‘regional’ as opposed to national or international. The Hanja characters behind the word are just as revealing. The first character 地 지 (“Ji”) means the earth or ground. The second character方 (방 – “Bang”) means direction. So you are literally heading ‘in the direction of the earth’ as opposed to the big city.

Example Sentence:
그는 지방 교회의 성직자이다.
(“Geu-neun Ji-bang Gyo-Hoe-eui Seong-jik-ja I-da”)
He is a minister of a local church

 

I hope that learning the character方 (방 – “Bang”) will make remembering all these different vocabulary words easier!

I would also like to say “G’day” as I am writing this article from beautiful Sydney Australia!

55 – 少 – Looking for a few good Hanja

This month we are going to look at the character 少 which means few, or small in number. It can also mean young. This character is pronounced 소 (“So”) in Korean. This character can be found in many Korean words, and knowing its meaning will help you learn these words.

Hanja So Few

For example, the word 감소 (減少 – “Gam-so”) means decrease or reduction. The first character 減 (감 – “Gam”) means reduce or lessen, and the second character 少 (소 – “So”) means few. When put together the word literally means ‘reduce-few’. If you add 하다 (“Ha-da”) you can make the verb 감소 하다 (“Gam-so Ha-da”) which means to decrease.

Example:
교통사고 건수가 극적으로 감소했다.
(“Gyo-tong-sa-go Geon-su-ga Geuk-jeok-eu-ro Gam-so Het-da”)
The number of traffic accidents has dramatically decreased.

The word 사소 (些少 – “Sa-so”) means trivial, minor, or insignificant. The first character 些 (사 – “Sa”) means little, and the second character 少 (소 – “So”) means few.

Example:
그런 사소한 일에 신경 쓰지 마라
(“Geu-reon Sa-so-han Il-ae Shin-gyeong Sseu-ji Ma-ra”)
Don’t worry over such minor details.

The word 다소 (多少 – “Da-so”) means somewhat or a little. The first character 多 (다 – “Da”) oddly means many and the second character 少 (소 – “So”) means few. It seems odd that the combined word ‘many-few’ means a little.

Example:
그는 나이 들고 다소 허약하다.
(“Geu-neun Na-i Deul-go Da-so Heo-yak Ha-da”)
He is old and somewhat frail.

 

The word 소녀 (少女 – “So-nyeo”) means young girl. The first character 少 (소 – “So”) means few, or in this case young. The second character 女 (녀 – “Nyeo”) means woman. You may recognize this word from the name of the k-pop girl group 소녀시대 (“So-nyeo Shi-dae”) or Girls Generation.

Example:
카밀은 깜찍한 소녀였다
(“Ka-mil-eun Kkam-jjik-han So-nyeo Yeot-da”)
Camille was a cute little girl.

Similarly the word 소년 (少年 – “So-nyeon”) means young boy. The first character 少 (소 – “So”) means few, or young. The second character 年 (년- “Nyeon”) means year.

Example:
그 소년은 매우 내성적이다
(“Geu So-nyeon-eun Mae-u Nae-seong-jeok I-da”)
The boy is highly introverted.

 

54 – 事 – I know what I “sa”

Originally published August 2017

This month we are going to look at the character 事 which means event, occurrence, or thing that happened. This character is pronounced 사 (“Sa”) in Korean. This character can be found in many Korean words, and knowing its meaning will help you learn these words.

Hanja SA Even Occurrence

For example the word 기사 (記事 – “Gi-sa”) means article (like a news article, or this article that you are reading right now. The first character 記 (기- “Gi”) means record or document. The second character 事 (사 – “Sa”) means event, thing that happened. When the two characters are combined, the word 기사 (記事 – “Gi-sa”) literally means ‘a record of something that happened’.

Example:
나는 신문의 모든 기사를 읽었다.
(“Na-neun Shil-mun-ui Mo-deun Gi-sa-reul Ilg-eot-da”)
I read all the articles in the newspaper.

Another example is the word 식사 (食事 – “Shik-sa”) which means meal. The fist character 食 (식 – “Shik”) means meal or food, and the second character 事 (사 – “Sa”) means event. So 식사 (食事 – “Shik-sa”) literally means ‘meal-event’ or the act of eating a meal.

Example:
저녁식사로 우리 뭘 먹을까?
(“Jeon-nyeok Shik-sa-ro U-ri Mwol Meok-eul-kka”)
What should we do for dinner?

 

The word 사무 (事務 – “Sa-mu”) means office work. The first character 事 (사 – “Sa”) means event, thing that happened. The second character 務 (무 – “Mu”) means strive or make an effort. So this word has the meaning of the act of making things happen. If you add the character for place (所 – 소 – “So”) to the end you get 사무소 (事務所 – “Sa-mu-so”) which literally means ‘office-place’ or the place where everybody is working. Once you reach management level you might get to move into your own 사무실 (事務室 – “Sa-mu-shil”) which is an office room. We get this word by adding the character for room (室 – 실 – “Shil”) to the end of 사무 (事務 – “Sa-mu”).

The word 사실 (事實 – “Sa-shil”) means truth, fact. The first character 事 (사 – “Sa”) means event, thing that happened. The second character 實 (실 – “Shil”) means real or true. When combined, the word 사실 (事實 – “Sa-shil”) literally means ‘something that really happened’.

Example:
그녀가 사실을 말한다고 생각하세요?
“Geu-nyeo-ga Sa-shil-eul Mal-han-da-to Seng-gak Ha-se-yo”)
Do you think she’s telling the truth?

Here are some other very common words that use the character 事 (사 – “Sa”)
군사 (軍事 – “Gun-sa”): The military
공사 (工事 – “Gong-sa”): Construction
농사 (農事 – “Nong-sa”): Farming, agriculture
무사하다 (無事 – “Mu-sa-ha-da”): safe (and sound), intact, unharmed
사고 (事故 – “Sa-go”): An accident

This month’s article was written on my 41st birthday, from a room in beautiful Cambria, California where I am on a road trip with my family!

53 – 文 – Patterns in Writing

Originally published July 2017

This month we are going to look at the character 文 which means writing or pattern. This character is pronounced 문 (generally anglicized as “Mun” but sounds like “moon”) in Korean. This character can be found in many Korean words, and knowing its meaning will help you learn these words.

Hanja Mun Writing Pattern

For example, the word 문법 (文法– “Mun-beop”) means grammar. The first character 文 (문 – “Mun”) means writing and the second character 法 (법 – “Beop”) means rules or law. Together they mean “writing-rules” which is a pretty good definition of grammar.

Example Sentence:
현주는 문법을 암기했다.
(“Hyun-Joo-neun Mun-beop Eul Am-gi Het-da.”)
Hyun Joo learned the grammar rules by heart.

The word 문학 (文學 – “Mun-hak”) means literature. The first character 文 (문 – “Mun”) means writing and the second character 學 (학 – “Hak”) means to learn or to study. Together they mean “the study of writing” or maybe “learned-writing”.

Example Sentence:
헥터는 문학 석사학위를 가지고 있다.
(“Haek-teo-neun Mun-hak Seok-sa-hak-wi-reul Ga-ji-go It-da”)
Hector’s master’s degree is in literature.

The word 논문 (論文 – “Non-mun”) means thesis. The first character 論 (논 – “Non”) means debate or discuss, the second character 文 (문 – “Mun”) means writing. When you write a thesis you are discussing something or making an argument about something in writing.

Example Sentence:
논문은 통과됐어요?
(“Non-mun-eun Tong-gwa Dwess-eo-yo?)
Did your thesis get approved?

The word 문구 (文句 – “Mun-gu”) means phrase, or expression. The first character 文 (문 – “Mun”) means writing and the second character 句 (구- “Gu”) means phrase.

Example Sentence:
당신은 매우 재미있는 문구를 사용했다.
(“Dang-shin-eun Mae-u Jae-mi Iss-neun Mun-gu-reul Sa-yong Hess-da”)
You used a very interesting phrase.

The word 문서 (文書 – “Mun-seo”) means document or papers. The first character 文 (문 – “Mun”) means writing and the second character 書(서- “Seo”) means document.

Example Sentence:
그 문서에 서명했다.
(“Geu Mun-seu-ae Seo-myeong Hess-da”)
I put my signature on the document.

Here are some other common words that use the character 文 (문 – “Mun”):
문자 (文字 – “Mun-ja”): Letter, character
문장 (文章 – “Mun-jang”): Sentence
문화 (文化 – “Mun-hwa): Culture
주문 (呪文 – “Ju-mun”): A spell, incantation
주문 (注文 – “Ju-mun”): An order, to order something
한문 (漢文 – “Han-mun”): Chinese writing

 

I hope that learning the character 文 (문 – “Mun”) will make remembering all these different vocabulary words easier!