Explaining the Korean Grammar in the Christmas Story, Part 2

Yes, Christmas has come and gone if you aren’t Romanian Orthodox. In the Romanian Orthodox church, they have a different calendar than the rest of the world, so they have Christmas on the seventh of January. Just as the Romanians have two calendars, so do the Koreans, and that makes three different calendars being used in the world, and the Koreans use two of them. The Koreans also have two different New Years, and the first one has come and gone. People are always talking about the dates of the Christmas story, but even though we know the exact year, we are unsure of the exact time of year. Because of that, there are people who make trouble and say we shouldn’t be celebrating Christmas. With all the differences in all the calendars and all the different opinions, we just need to remember that Christ was born, and it doesn’t matter when we celebrate his birth, just that he was born, and it was a wonderful happening. It is wonderful to have a holiday that celebrates something astoundingly good happening for this world, the birth of a savior that came to show us the way back to God and who came to show us how to live to make our lives better. As far as I am concerned, I celebrate Christ all year round. Everyone makes a special party on December 25th, and since I love Christ and Christianity as well as my fellowman, I want to join the party.

Now, let’s continue with talking about the Korean grammar in the story of Christmas. We are on Verse 19 of the first chapter of Matthew. In verse 18, Mary had learned she was pregnant by means of the Holy Spirit, but her and Joseph were not married, only engaged.

Photo by SHAHBAZ AKRAM on Pexels.com

Verse 19: 그의 남편 요샙은 의로은 사람이라. 그를 드러내지 아니하고 가만히 끊고자 하여

She was pregnant through the Holy Spirit. (그녀는 성령로 인심 이엤어요.) Photo by Hakan Tahmaz on Pexels.com

그의 – A possessive,”Her.” Yes, normally “그의” would mean “his.” However, in most languages, things can’t translate straight through, and this is one of those cases. 그 is usually the masculine pronoun, and 의 is usually the sign of something being possessive. However, 그 does not always translate as “he, him, or his, (according to the ending),” but can also be used as “she, her, or possessive her (according to the ending).” They have the 그녀 which can only be “she, her, or possessive her (according to the ending),” and it can only be feminine, but 그 can actually be masculine or feminine according to the context. Usually, it is masculine, but at times, it is used as the feminine pronoun, and it is here.

그의 남편 요샙 – “Her husband, Joseph.” 그의 is explained above. 남편 means “husband.” Yes, he was actually only her fiancé at this point. However, even in the English Bible, it says “husband.” This is because of the difference in the Jewish culture and other cultures. When you made a betrothal in Jewish culture, you just didn’t break the betrothal. It wasn’t as if they were sleeping together or living together, but the bond was as strong as marriage when they became engaged. It is the same way in the Japanese culture, but I haven’t heard of it like that in any other culture. It was a legal thing to be betrothed in the Jewish culture, so he was already considered her husband in the Jewish culture. 요샙 is the name “Joseph,” and it is a Korean name too. I know someone in Korea named 요샙. The Koreans like Bible names. Sometimes the parents give their kids Bible names, and sometimes, they change their own name and take a nickname from the Bible. The most popular name the Koreans take is “David” for the boys and “Esther” for the girls. 나남편 요샙 is the subject of the sentence.

외로은 – “lonely.” You can tell because of the end of the Korean word that this is an adjective.

사람 – “person.” This is a noun. It is a predicate nominative because it renames 남편 요샙.

이라 – “was.” 이라 comes from the verb we use everyday 이예요, and the past tense of 이예요 is 이었어요. 이에요 is the “be” verb that identifies. This is why 사람 is the predicate nominative. 이라 is the form of this verb you will only see in books, and especially in the Bible. It is the last verb in the sentence which makes it the main verb. In the Korean Bible, there was actually not a period after this verb, but I put it there for your understanding. They often leave the punctuation out.

으내인들에게 약흔 결혼만큼이 나구속력 이 이었어요. (To the Jews, an engagement was as binding as marriage.)Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Let’s put this sentence together: “Her husband Joseph was a lonely person.”

그를 – “him” or “her.” Usually take 그 as the masculine pronoun. With 를 after 그, it means that 그 is the direct object, and in English “him” is our object form of the masculine pronoun, and we use “him” as the direct object. However, in this case, again, it is used as “her.”

드러내지 아니 – “not exposed,” or “not revealed.” 드러내다 is the basic form, or the book form, of 드러내지 아니. 드러내다 means “to reveal” or “to expose.” When you take that 다 off and add 지, you know there is a negative coming. The negative is 아니. Yes, this is not the 않아요 that you see at the end of the sentence. It is a negative that is used only inside of the sentence.

하고 – “and.” There are many ways to say “and” in Korean, each for a specific use. This “and” is used inside of the sentence on the end of a verb.

가만히 끈고자 – “Let’s continue staying together.” 끈고자 can also mean “sticky,” but not in this case. 가만히 when it is a lone means “stay.” However, together, they are more like “stay together.” The 자 at the end is the part that means “let’s.” Here are some examples of how 자 is used: 가요 or 가다 means “go,” and you supply the pronoun from context. 가자 means “let’s go.” 먹어요 or 먹다 means “eat,” and you supply the pronoun from context. 먹자 means “let’s eat.”

하여 – “did.” 하여 comes from 하다 which means “do.” Since we know this is talking about the past, we say “did,” but is doesn’t necessarily say that in Korean. Korean is a very non specific language. When Koreans learn English, they are at first confused by our specificity and make lots of mistakes, but when they speak English well, they appreciate the specificity in English. The ones who speak English well would rather study the Bible in English at times than Korean because they say the Korean just doesn’t explain well enough, and they get more details in English. This is the last verb in the sentence, again. If you were speaking this sentence, you would say “해요” for 하여, and it means “do.” If you want to say “did,” say 했어요.

그는 그녀함께 있어요. (He stayed with her.)Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Let’s put this sentence together: “He didn’t expose her, and he stayed with her.”

As usual, I am only going to do one verse in Korean. The verse seems so easy after you see what it means, but it takes a lot of thinking for a westerner to understand a verse like this. Today is New Year’s Day, and we have an appointment to meet some friends for lunch. I have known the wife in the family all my adult life. She was in Japan with me, was one of my roommates when I was in college, and was a bride’s maid at my wedding, and we are going to spend New Year’s Day together.

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