November 18, 2014

KDrama Word of the Day: Saram (Person)

Silhouette of a personSaram (사람), or “person” is a word you may have heard in KDrama and mistaken for 사랑, for good reason. As you can see, the spellings in Hangeul are very similar. If you can’t tell the difference, the bottom letter in the second syllable of 사람 (person) is square, while the corresponding letter of 사랑 (love) is round.

Not only do Koreans say “our” instead of “my,” they may speak of themselves as “this person” instead of “I.” The word for “this” in Korean is 이 (which you remember is pronounced “ee”). If you hear someone say 이 사람, they may be speaking of themselves in the third person. Then again, they may actually be speaking about a third person. Look around. Is there a third person?

You may also hear the phrase reversed, with 이 coming after 사람. In that case, 이 does not mean “this,” but is a marker syllable that determines the sentence structure.

이 can mean a lot of things in Korean – it also means 2 in one of the number systems. How many numbers systems are there, you may ask? Why, I’m glad you asked that. There are 이 ;)

“This” and “that” are more complicated in Korean than they are in English, so we’ll get into that another day. If you can’t wait, here’s a great Talk to Me in Korean lesson about the differences.

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