Elementary Korean - Companion to Lesson 11: 스물한 살이에요. 팔십칠년생이에요.

This is a companion guide to Lesson 11: "스물한 살이에요. 팔십칠년생이에요." from the book Elementary Korean by Ross King and Jaehoon Yeon.

Dialogue 1


한글 한자 Translation
평창동 平倉洞 Pyeongchang neighborhood (in Seoul)
부자 동네 富者 洞네 a rich neighborhood
사는군요   verb 살다 (to live) with ending 군요
집에서 학교까지 집에서 學校까지 from home to school
두 시간
두 時間
hour (period) (use w/ native Korean numbers)
(a period of) two hours
한 시간쯤 한 時間쯤 about one hour
(X 시간이) 걸리다   to take (X hours)

스물한 살
  age (years old) (use w/ native Korean numbers)
20 years old
몇 살이다   How old are you? (to younger person)
(pronounced 팔십칠련생이다)
year of birth (use w/ sino-Korean numbers)
I was born in 87.
저하고 동갑이다 저하고 同甲이다 We are the same age
(lit.) (you) and I are the same age.
생일 生日 (one's) birthday
팔월 이십사일 八月 二十四日 8/24
older brother (of a man)
형님 兄님 older brother (of a man), formal
Used in this dialogue as a joke
전화번호 電話番號 a phone number
삼오이의 일공칠삼 三五二의 一空七三 352-1073 (phone number)
이번 주말에 이番 週末에 (on) this weekend
(우리) 한국어 반 (우리) 韓國語 班 (our) Korean class

Vocabulary Notes


Dialogues 1 and 2 of Lesson 11 use a lot of counters throughout the exchanges between 영철 and 에릭.

시 (o'clock), 시간 (hours), 마리 (number of animals), 상자 (number of boxes), 봉지 (number of bags), 살 (years old), and 사람 (number of people) all use native Korean numbers (하나, 둘, 셋, etc.).

일 (day of the month), 월 (month of the year), 년 (year), 년생 (year of birth, or school grade), and 분 (number of minutes) all use Sino-Korean numbers (일, 이, 삼, etc.).


영철 and 에릭 are not using honorifics in this text. Technically, 영철 should have used honorifics in lines 1 (집이 어디세요?), 3 (사시는군요), and 5 (연세가 어떻게 되세요?) of Dialogue 1 because they are not familiar with each other and do not know each other's age. Because their age difference is of only one year and they are in university, they should still use honorifics even after knowing the age of the other person, unless they get permission to lower their speech from the other person.

Age in Korean

영철 asks 에릭 his age and 에릭 replies with his age (21) and his year of birth (87). 영철 then says "oh, we are the same age (동갑)!" and then asks for the date of birth of 에릭. Because they were born in the same year (1987), they are automatically 친구 (friends). The month or day of birth does not actually matter, 영철 would have needed to be born in a previous calendar year to call 에릭 형 (older brother for a man). The rest of the dialogue (lines 9 and 10) should thus be interpreted as a joke from 영철, as the caption "jokingly" indicates. 형님 (honored older brother, which could be appropriate if they were 20 years apart) is therefore also part of the joke.

Chinese characters (한자)

동 (洞): neighborhood. Used in a lot of Korean words about places, such as 동네 (洞네; neighborhood). When 동 (洞) is affixed to a name, it designates a specific neighborhood of a city. In this dialogue, 평창동 (平倉洞), a neighborhood of 종로구 (鐘路區), which is itself a subdivision of Seoul. Other famous neighborhoods or 동 (洞) in Seoul include 혜화동 (惠化洞), the famous shopping district 명동 (明洞), and 인사동 (仁寺洞), the international neighborhood of the capital.

시 (時): time, hour. Used in many words related to time; when used with numbers, 시 (時) always means 'hour'. Other common words with 시 (時) include 시계 (時計; a clock, a watch), 시간 (時間; number of hours, time period), and (時代; an era). You may now understand that the famous band 소녀시대 (少女時代) literally means Girl's Generation.

일 (日), 월 (月), 연/년 (年): respectively day, month, and year. The original meaning of 일 (日) is "sun" (a new day comes at every new "sun"), and 월 (月) is "moon" (a new month comes at every new "moon"). For information, 연/년 (年) comes from "person" and "rice plant" (a new year comes at every new "harvest," or 'person' taking care of the 'rice plant'). You must be able to recognize these three characters as they are constantly used in daily life in Korea (e.g., movie posters, government announcements, etc.). They are also used in numerous Korean words, such as 생일 (生日) in this dialogue, 월급 (月給; monthly salary), and 작년 (昨年; last year). Note: when 年 is the first character starting a word, it is pronounced 연; otherwise, its pronunciation is 년.

Dialogue 2


한글 한자 Translation
몇 사람   how many people (in a question)
(한) 열다섯 사람
  counter for people (use w/ native Korean numbers)
(approximately) 15 people
술을 많이 마셨습니까?   Did you drink a lot of alcohol?
Polite (but non-honorific) interrogative form of 마시다.
맥주 麥酒 beer
안주 按酒 food that goes well with alcohol
오징어   squid
오징어 열 마리
  counter for animals (use w/ native Korean numbers)
10 squids
감자깡   dried potato sticks
스무 봉지
스무 封紙
counter for bags (use w/ native Korean numbers)
20 bags
사과 沙果 apple
사과 한 상자
沙果 한 箱子
counter for boxes (use w/ native Korean numbers)
1 box of apples

세 시

세 詩
counter for hours (o'clock)
3 o'clock (AM or PM)
몇 시에 몇 時에 at what time (in question)
끝나다   to finish
새벽 두 시에

새벽 두 詩에
dawn, daybreak
at 2 AM
  to forget
to completely forget
용서하다 容恕하다 to forgive
점심시간 點心時間 lunchtime
밥을 먹으러 가다   to go eat a meal

Vocabulary Notes

Counters 사람 and 분 to count people

사람 without numbers in front of it means "a person" in general. When a native Korean number is in front, it acts as a counter to mean "number of people," e.g. 한 사람, 두 사람. It should only be used to count people who are not esteemed, people who are related to the speaker, or a group of unknown/undetermined people. In this dialogue, 에릭 says "열 다섯 사람", which is appropriate since people are related to the speaker.  

분 with a native Korean number in front is the counter for esteemed people, i.e. people for whom the use of honorifics would be appropriate. Typically, 분 is used when the speaker is talking about people in relation to the person spoken to. For example, a waiter at a restaurant would ask "몇 분이세요?" to customers entering a restaurant, to which the customer would reply "두 명이에요" (read another dialogue example). If 에릭 were to talk to 영철's dad for example, he would have to use the counter "분" to talk about people related to the dad (including younger people, such as 영철's children).

한 in front of a number

에릭 says "한 열다섯 사람" (l. 2) to say "approximately fifteen people." The 한 here is not part of the number, it instead means approximately because it is added in front of a number. There is never any ambiguity regarding 한 meaning "approximately" or "one," since 한 in front of a counter (한 사람) has to mean "one," and 한 in front of a number has to mean "approximately."