A kind of green


This color -- 청록

I met a 형 that has befriended me here and as we were eating pizza in a small Arabic shop his wife told me how to make 무김치 here in Israel. (A lot of the ingredients for kimchi are hard to get here in Israel — so people have to make do with various make-dos.) One of the things I was told was that it is impossible in Israel to find  proper 무 but there’s a kind with a green peel you can use that tastes similar.  However she used a different word for green than I was used to — 청록.

I’m looking at the dicionary and it means a “bluish green color; bluish green; turquoise blue”.

I guess it’s an combination of 청색 and 녹색. Rather cool.

Ah, Korean has too many colors. But than, we do have the word ‘turquoise’ in English as well. . . so I guess I shouldn’t complain. 🙂

Update: Another word I looked up and learned today because I realised I didn’t know what it was — peel as in “peel the 무” or “peel the orange”. If a person is doing the peeling, the verb is 벗기다 or 껍질을 벗기다. So Please peel the orange  is 오렌지의 껍질을 벗겨 주시오. For sentences where such as “the potato peels nicely’ you naturally use the passive 벗기지다.

Magical goodness. . . a turn of a phrase

Leave a comment

It’s the magical turn of a phrase. . . you know the ones that cause people to stop and listen. They’re idioms, slang, 유행어 (trendy words). . . proverbs that are used often, and just plain expressions and words that, when you start using them, will find out are anything but plain.

I’ve started making a list of some phrases I’ve come across with friends or in my reading and drama watching that have taken my fancy. Here’s a few to whet your appetite. . .

• 한번 칼을 뽑았으면 끝을 봐야지! If you start a job, you must finish it!

• 어장관리 When a girlfriend is trying to get several guys to lover at the same time she is guilty of 어장관리.

• 사래 걸렸어. What you say when something gets caught in your throat while you are eating. I’ve never been able to say this without being complimented on my Korean. . . people are rather impressed.

And there’s many more over at A Turn of a Phrase. I’ll keep adding more to this list as well.^^

What’s the magic word? 형 & 오빠


What are some of the magic words in Korean? I started thinking about magic words here.

Perhaps my most favorite are the 호칭어[呼稱語]. What are 호칭어? Words used to call someone.. Most (or perhaps all) of these 호칭어 related to family relations are magical. . . because they invoke a familial relation between you and the speaker when they are used. Once you use these words you are no longer strangers, but family. Use this word and familial bonds, duties, and privileges are (almost) automatically granted.

오빠 (Oppa = older brother, girl speaking) is one of these words. If I’m called 오빠 by any of younger friends . . it’s rather hard to not to give in to anything they might want to ask me. Girls know that is a magical word they can use for any guy who is older (usually only a bit older though).

Another magical word is More

What’s the magic word?


Of course all words are magical.

However, some words are more magical than others.

All words can convey meaning and emotion and sway your listener sometimes. Magic words you can do this much more often. To really learn a language well its not enough to just learn vocabulary lists and grammatical endings, but to learn which words are special and why. More than learning just whether  a word is positive or negative its crucial to learn More


Leave a comment

Korean as Is mentions several very interesting points in his last article. I was going to respond in a comment, but as my comment was looking more and more like a post I decided to leave it here instead.

James wishes that Koreans would replace the expression ‘우리말’ with some other term. For myself I like the sound of ‘우리말’ much more than ‘한국어’ and use it quite regularly in conversations with people. At school when I use it with children they are never confused and often I can use it with adults in normal conversations and not get challenged. Im very curious though how many other foreigners learning Korean use ‘우리말’ for Korean in their speech.

I have several reasons for using it myself. . . one is that although technically ‘우리말’ means ‘our language’ it’s only every used by Koreans to mean the Korean language. . . and thus it’s really just a synonym that means (regardless of the speaker) 한국어. I also feel that if I’m speaking Korean with another Korean it is “our” language, our common language.

Lastly I feel that no word that Koreans use should be off limits to foreigners just because they are a foreigner. I have had people tell me several times that I shouldn’t use this or that common hip phrase because it sounded strange for them to hear a foreigner talk normal colloquial Korean. In Korean I want the whole package, and speak everywhere appropriatly and understand any situation.

To me it seems that using ‘우리말’ or ‘우리나라’ though do betray a certain amount of identification with the language and culture. . . but that identification is immensely important if we want to really to speak and use the language as well as a native.

Perhaps the phenomena found in things like Korea’s ‘우리나라’ are also in English but we don’t realize it as much. It sometimes feels a bit funny for me if I hear a non-American call America ‘the States’, but it is a very common way to refer to America by Americans. If someone really identifies with Americans and want to speak American english well they should definitely use that word (and others) like an American.