9 – Have A Ball 球

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(Originally published August 2013)

The Chinese character 球 (구 – “Gu”) means ‘ball’ or ‘sphere’. Many Korean names for sports and games have this character in them.

야구 “Yagu” (野球) – Baseball

The first sound, 야 “Ya” means countryside, or field. When 구 “Gu” is added it becomes “Field-ball”, or baseball.

탁구 “Tak-gu” (卓球) – Ping pong/ Table Tennis

The sound 탁 “Tak” comes from the Chinese character 卓 which means ‘table’. So 탁구 “Tak-gu” literally means “Table-ball”.

축구 “Chuk-gu” (蹴球) – Soccer

The first sound here 축 “Chuk” comes from the Chinese character 蹴 which means “kick”. So 축구 “Chuk-gu” literally means “Kick-ball”. American football is called 미식축구 “Mi-shik Chuk-gu”. “Mi-shik” just means “American Style”.

농구 “Nong-gu” (籠球) – Basketball

The first sound 농 “Nong” comes from the Chinese character 籠 which means ‘cage’ or ‘basket’. So 농구 “Nong-gu” literally means “Basket-ball”.

피구 “Pi-gu” (避球) – Dodgeball

The first sound “Pi” 피 comes from the Chinese character 避 which means ‘avoid’. So 피구 “Pi-gu” means “Avoid-ball”.

배구 “Bae-gu” (排球) – Volleyball

The first sound 배 “Bae” comes from the Chinese character 排 which means “row, rank, line”, presumably because each team lines up in a row on either side of the net. So 배구 “Bae-gu” means “row-ball”

The following are just romanizations of English:

Tennis is just 테니스 “Teh-ni-suh”

Handball is just 핸드볼 “Hen-duh-bol”

Badminton is just 배드민턴 “Bae-duh-min-ton”

And my favorite sport Air Hockey is just 에어 하키 “Ae-uh Ha-Ki”.

One other good word to know is the word for Earth.

지구 “Ji-gu” (地球) – Earth

The first sound 지 “Ji” comes from the Chinese character 地 which means “Earth, soil, ground”. So 지구 “Ji-gu” means “Earth-ball” or “Soil-ball” (which is slightly better than ‘dirt-ball’ I guess!).

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