Like my previous post addressing the useful Korean prefix 되, this post identifies another Korean prefix that functions like the Latin-based English prefix “re”. For example, English has words like replay, reorganize, and recycle; Korean, too, has prefixes that can help you figure out what a word means. Unlike 되, this one comes from a Chinese character or 한자.
재 (as a prefix) = again
What’s the difference between 되 and 재 as prefixes? 되 is natural Korean, which means it does not originate from a 한자 or Chinese character. 재 does: 再.
재 = 再
Additionally, 되 seems to have broader usage than 재, which almost exclusively means “again”.
Let’s take a look at some Korean words that reflect this specific usage and 再 character, and then we’ll examine other possible 한자 and associated meanings for 재. Continue reading
If you’re an English speaker who pays close attention to language traits, you’ve probably learned or realized that a vast majority of English verbs beginning with “re” are words that talk about doing something over again. Shall I reword, rephrase, or reorganize that thought?
re = originally a Latin prefix meaning “again” or “back”
remove = to move something back or away
reverse = to go backward
Similarly, Korean has its own prefix that functions like the Latin-based English prefix “re”. Korean uses 되~; English uses re~.
되 (as a prefix) = back, again; on the contrary
Let’s take a look at some Korean words that reflect this usage. Continue reading
I’m working my way through the bestselling book, 언어의 온도, aka The Temperature of Language, and not everything is as it first seems. Take this excerpt:
“몇 해 전, 봄을 알리는 비가 지나간 스산한 저녁이었다. 출판도시에서 일을 보고 차를 몰아 자유로에 진입했다.”
자유. Ja-yu. It means freedom, it means liberty; it’s a word with a relaxed approach to things. In translating this line, I calmly attributed this word to the author’s description of her driving style, but I was still confused by the usage of ~로 and ~에 at the end of 자유.
When my S.O. checked my work and left a corrective comment, I couldn’t stop laughing.
Apparently 자유로 (自由路) is a famous road in Korea, one that runs from Seoul to Paju, which is a city ripe with publishing companies and considered the publishing capital of Korea, just south of the demilitarized zone. It’s known for being a place where ghosts are spotted, and it’s quite literally called Freedom Road. It never occurred to me that it was the name of a street, even though I’m familiar with 로 denoting a road rather than being used as a grammatical marker.
“A few years ago, the passing rains spoke of spring, and it was a bleak evening. I had work at the Publishing City, and I entered through Freedom Road, driving my car.”
There’s even a Liberty Street near where I live, and it’s a common enough name for a road; isn’t it interesting that my mind couldn’t make that seemingly obvious conclusion? This is why I love translation; this is why I’ve served as a translator for Humans of Seoul for two years now. There is always some new nuance to be uncovered, like buried treasure hidden in the silt of everyday conversation.
지금 재생 중
We’re already on my third 단어짱! post, where I share interesting vocabulary words I’ve encountered in conversations, shows, and reading materials. I am also happy to answer anyone who submits an interesting, difficult-to-understand Korean word of their own. Time to learn about a dating-related Korean phrase!
작업을 걸다: to hit on someone, to make a move