While reading the Hobbit, I kept on coming across the word 나지막하다. I couldn’t figure out what it meant, but eventually asked my wife, and felt dumb for not figuring it out earlier. It means “somewhat low”, and I could’ve figured out the meaning by looking at the beginning: 나ㅈ, which syllabified differently is 낮 as in 낮다, low.
I’ve read mostly non-fiction until now, so I’m meeting a lot of descriptive words I haven’t seen before. It really helps to look at just a part of the word, because so many are based on common words. I’m pretty good at figuring out words from their parts, but I’m having to get used to a lot of new ones that are applied to adjectives:
base+막하다: somewhat ~, ~ish
eg. 나지막하다 (from 낮다), 야트막하다 (from 얕다), 느지막하다 (from 늦다 / 느직하다)
base+다랗다: in some cases very, other cases rather
e.g. 가느다랗다 (가늘다), 커다랗다 (from 크다), 굵다랗다, 깊다랗다
e.g. 가느스름하다, 누르스름하다, 동그스름하다, 똥그스름하다
The last two illustrate another principle in word formation that you need to be aware of to figure out adjectives: 쌍 letters and aspirated letters are often used to strengthen the meaning (센말). This is especially so with 의성어/의태어/colours, but also with any adjective. So 동그스름하다 means somewhat round, and 똥그스릅하다 is basically the same thing, but stronger. A “larger” meaning can also be obtained by changing yang to yin vowels, e.g. ㅏ->ㅓ, ㅗ->ㅜ, so 뚱그스름하다 has a larger and stronger meaning. Neither of the last two are in my 한영 dictionary though, so I’m going of the 국어사전, which doesn’t give much explanation…
- 호빗을 읽기….
- The Sejong Corpus