A grass leaf
Has such a stunning name.
When we call it “grass leaf,”
Inside our mouths echoe a blue whistle.
Why do grass leaves on a windy day
Waver their bodies so much?
Why do grass leaves on a showery day
Bounce their bodies so much?
Nonetheless, a grass leaf
Has such a stunning name,
For when we say “grass leaf,” “grass leaf” over and over,
Before we know, our body and mind
Become a green grass leaf.
(Translated by Jido Ahn. January 2016)
learn more about the poet: Park Sungryong (1934-2002)
퍽도 아름다운 이름을 가졌어요.
우리가 ‘풀잎’하고 그를 부를 때는,
우리들의 입 속에서는 푸른 휘파람 소리가 나거든요.
바람이 부는 날의 풀잎들은
왜 저리 몸을 흔들까요.
소나기가 오는 날의 풀잎들은
왜 저리 또 몸을 통통거릴까요.
퍽도 아름다운 이름을 가졌어요.
우리가 ‘풀잎’, ‘풀잎’하고 자꾸 부르면,
우리의 몸과 맘도 어느덧
푸른 풀잎이 돼 버리거든요.
This poem appears in 7th grade Korean textbook.
A grass leaf in Korean is 풀잎, which is pronounced as [풀립] [pulrip] according to 표준국어대사전, a Korean language dictionary published by National Institute of Korean Language (Korean website). Sometimes people pronounce it as [pulnip], but this is inaccurate pronunciation. How do you think, do you think it sounds like blue whistle [pureun hwiparam]?
More about National Institute of Korean Language. NIKL (국립국어원 in Korean) is a government institute that has quite a few important roles regarding Korean language, including deciding what type of linguistic changes or trends are considered grammatical or not. NIKL’s website has a comprehensive guide to Korean grammar and standard Korean (opposed to dialects), so if you understand Korean, check out the Korean website. However, your level of Korean will have to be at least around Korean middle school students’ to understand the content.
Also, do you know if your Korean is grammatically correct? Check out NIKL’s grammar check. I used to use this tool in middle school, when I was proofreading practice short stories for the last time. This tool has a really high accuracy rate, and I can guarantee it because I used it 7 years ago when I practiced poems and stories. I had a great sense of Korean grammar back then. Believe me and use this tool again and again to correct your Korean, and you’ll find your sense of Korean grammar is better than most Korean people’s.