20 – Everything is Everything 每

(Originally published November 2014)

Many Korean words related to the meaning of ‘Every’ have the sound 매 (“Mae’) in them. This sound comes from the Chinese character 每 which means ‘Every’.

Every01

For example the Korean word for ‘everyday’ is 매일 (每日 – “Mae-il”). The first syllable매 (“Mae”) means ‘every’ and the second syllable 일 (日 – “Il”) means ‘day’. When the two syllables are combined you get a word that literally means ‘Every-day’.

The Korean word for ‘weekly’ or ‘every week’ is 매주 (每週 – “Mae-Ju”). This first syllable 매 (“Mae”) means “every”, and the second syllable 매주 (週 – “Ju”) means ‘week’. So 매주 (“Mae-Ju”) literally means ‘Every-Week’.

The Korean word for ‘monthly’ is 매월 (每月 – “Mae-Wueol”). In this case the second syllable월 (月 – “Wueol”) comes from the Chinese character for ‘moon’ or ‘month’.

The word for ‘yearly’ is 매년 (每年 – “Mae-Nyun”), and of course the seconds syllable 년 (年 – “Nyun”) comes from the Chinese for ‘year’.

The Korean word for ‘every time’ is 매번 (每番 – “Mae-Beon”). The second character here means an instance of doing something or ‘time’ as in the ‘first time’, ‘second time’, etc. And since매 (“Mae”) means ‘every’ then매번 (“Mae-Beon”) means ‘every time’.

It is worth noting that in addition to saying 매일 (每日 – “Mae-il”) for ‘everyday’ and 매월 (每月 – “Mae-Wueol”) for ‘every month’ there is another way to say these where instead of using the Chinese character for ‘day’ and ‘month’ the native Korean words for ‘day’ and ‘month’ are used instead.

달 (“Dal”) is the Korean word for “moon” or “month” and does not originally come from Chinese. You can combine this with the Chinese 매 (“Mae”) to get 매달 (‘Mae-Dal’) which is another way of saying ‘every month’ – but in this case is a hybrid mix of Chinese and Korean.

Similarly, the Korean word for ‘day’ is 날 (“Nal”). An informal way of saying ‘everyday’ is 맷날 (“Men-Nal”) instead of 매일 (“Mae-il”). Notice the extra ㅅ letter in word 맷날. This is inserted to reflect how it is pronounced – when aㅅ is followed by a ㄴ it turns the ㅅ into an ‘n’ sound, making the pronunciation (“Men-nal” instead of “Mae-nal” or “Mes-nal”). A bit confusing, isn’t it?

Have a word or character that you would like to know more about? Send your questions and comments to newhanja@gmail.com.

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