Easter in Korean

It’s Easter Sunday today and it’s good to know how easter greetings are said in Korean.  I am not sure if Christianity is a major religion in South Korea but I read there are Christians there though most do not have specific religion but are following Confucianism.

I asked over at yahoo answers how to say Happy Easter in Korea and this is what I got:

부활절을 잘 보내세요 – Puh-wha-choreul Jal  Bo-nae-se-yo

I just realized its not so different to how you say merry christmas you just change  부활절을 to 성탄절 song-tan-chol.  부활절을 (minus 을 which is object marker)  means Easter so 부활절을 잘 보내세요 literally means ‘have a well blessed easter’. 

I was thinking Christians in English speaking countries uses Happy Easter so probably in Korean this can be said this way too:

부활절 행복해세요 – Pu-wha-chol Heng-bok-hae-se-yo (in honorific polite terms) or drop the 세 so you will have  부활절 행복해요 – Pu-wha-chol Heng-bok-hae-yo  in polite casual or again drop the 요 ‘yo’ to make it intimate.

Honorific Verbs

Honorifics in Korean does not end with the correct titles and verb ending.  There are some verbs that are honorific and should be used instead of the usual one.   There are 3 verbs I learned that are considered honorific.

  • 주무시 – chumushi which means sleep
  • 계 – kye meaning stay
  • 잡수시 – chapsushi which means to eat

So in saying goodnight or sleep well to an esteemed person, one may say 안녕히 주무세요 (annyeonghi chumuseyo) or 잘 주무세요 (jal chumuseyo).  Politely this can be expressed as 잘 자요 (jal jayo) removing the 요 ‘yo’ will make it intimate or said to someone close or younger to you.

The same in asking someone to eat, 잡수세요 japsuseyo is the expression to use for someone who is older or esteemed rather than the polite casual style which is 먹어요 (mok-oyo).  Again, removing the 요 ‘yo’ will make it intimate.

Honorific Base and Infinitive

When I was trying to check my English-Korean / Korean-English dictionary, I was actually making a big mistake of using the word as is, moreover using the same pattern that English is spoken which is the Subject-Verb-Object pattern.  This is the big difference, in Korean the pattern is Subject-Object-Verb.  Verb being the last part of the sentence is the most important part of the speech as Subject and Object can be dropped in Korean conversation.

The dictionary entry with 다 -da as marker suggest what the base word is. The base word is the one that is used to form infinitive (words as used in conversation).  I have not mastered deducing the base form of a word from its dictionary entry but somehow I am more familiar now.  Using my favorite verb ‘go’:

  • 가다 – Ka-Da is the dictionary entry of this word and is never used as is.
  • 가 – Ka is the base form of this word and at the same time the infinitive form.  Common rule in deriving the infinitive is to add 아 (a) or 어  (eo) to the base form.  There are some complication but normally consonant ending words takes the 어 to get the infinitive except on cases where the previous vowel to the consonant ending word is either ㅗ or ㅏ  in that case 아 is the infinitive ending.

Words have honorific base and infinitive too, similar to the exercise of putting 아 or 어 to the base word to create the regular infinitive.  To make the honorific base, ~으시 or ~시 is added to the base word.  으시 if the word ends in consonant and 시 when word ends in vowel.   Then to make the honorific infinitive ㅓ is added to ~으시 or ~시.  In most cases 으시어 or 시어 is abbreviated to 으셔 or 셔.

Let’s take the word ‘write’ as an example:

  • 쓰다 – Ss-eu-da is the dictionary form of the word (again never used in a conversation unless you are asked what write is in Korean)
  • 쓰 – Ss-eu is the base form of the word
  • 써 – Ss-eo is the regular infinitive form, as mentioned earlier, infinitive form ends with either ㅓor ㅏ.  In the case of the word write which end in ㅡ the rule is  to drop this and replace with ㅓ but if the word still has a vowel before it which ends in ㅗ ㅏ then ㅏ will be the ending.  For this word ㅡ is the last and only vowel so the ending will be ㅓ.
  • 쓰시 – Ssu-shi is the honorific base form.
  • 쓰셔 – Ssu-syo is the infinitive form

Other verbs in their honorific infinitive:

Read  (dictionary entry 읽다 — ikda)

  • 읽 – ik (where s sound is silent) is the regular base form
  • 읽어 – i-ko is the regular infinitive form
  • 읽으시 – i-ku-shi is the honorific base form
  • 읽으셔 – i-ku-syo is the honorific infinitive form

Walk (dictionary entry 걷다 geot-da)

  • 걷 – geot is the base form
  • 걷어 – geo-to is the infinitive form
  • 걷으시 -geo-tu-shi is the honorific base form
  • 걷으셔 – gee-tu-syo is the honorific infinitive form

Come (dictionary entry 오다 oda)

  • 오 – eo is the base form
  • 와 – wa is the infinitive form
  • 오시 – eo-shi is the honorific base form
  • 오셔 – eo-syo is the honorific infinitive form

Honorifics

I think I have written on my previous entry that in Korean, the manner of speaking is very important and it depends on who you are talking to. This actually confused me when I was trying to learn Hangul — I am still trying by the way :-P.  Most of the phrase books are suggesting phrases in honorific style or at times the polite ones.  There seems to be pattern but nevertheless if you don’t read and read you won’t be able to understand.

Based from what I read there are 3 major ways of expressing thoughts in Korean:

  • Honorific – which is the style used when talking to someone esteemed (older than you, professional people , parents or those whom you have high regard)
  • Casual Polite – the style used when talking to a friend you usually call with sshi 씨 or if you are unsure of the person’s age who seems to have the same age as you.
  • Intimate – the style used when talking to younger person or someone who is very close to you.

It is very important to remember that honorific style is never used to describe your own deed or action. 

To give an example on these different styles, take the case of saying ‘let’s go’ or ‘go’:

  • 가세요 – Ka-Se-Yo, Ka means go and Se is an honorific marker then the polite ending Yo.  As mentioned in my earlier entry  its never an issue to drop the subject when communicating in Korean as such you will not find I or You in the sentence.
  • 가요 – Ka-Yo, this is casual polite just removing the honorific marker Se but ending using the polite way which is Yo.
  • 가 – Ka is actually the word in its infinitive.  When I was talking about base and dictionary entries for word previously, verb in its infinitive form can be used to express action or describe action (words in dictionary form is never used in a normal conversation — later i’ll post more on base words).  Dropping the polite ending Yo leaves you with the word 가 which is the infinitive form for this word which means go.