못생기다

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Korean[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Univerbation of (mot, poorly) +‎ 생기다 (saenggida, to appear, to emerge; (in past tense constructions) to appear, to look).

Pronunciation[edit]

  • (SK Standard/Seoul) IPA(key): [ˈmo̞(ː)ss͈ɛŋɡida̠] ~ [ˈmo̞(ː)ss͈e̞ŋɡida̠]
  • Phonetic hangul: [(ː)/(ː)]
    • Though still prescriptive in Standard Korean, most speakers in both Koreas no longer distinguish vowel length.
Romanizations
Revised Romanization?motsaenggida
Revised Romanization (translit.)?mos'saenggida
McCune–Reischauer?mossaenggida
Yale Romanization?mōs.sayngkita

Verb[edit]

못생기다 (motsaenggida) (infinitive 못생겨 or 못생기어, sequential 못생기니)

  1. (defective) to be ugly, unattractive
    Antonym: 잘생기다 (jalsaenggida, to be handsome)
    얼굴도 못생긴 게 / 왜 태어났니?Eolgul-do motsaenggin ge / wae taeeonanni?Your face is so ugly / Why were you born? (parody lyrics to "Happy Birthday to You")

Usage notes[edit]

The verb is defective due to the etymological semantics and primarily occurs in the morphological past tense (literally "to have emerged poorly" > "to be handsome"), e.g. 못생겼다 (motsaenggyeotda, “he is ugly”), 못생긴 (motsaenggin, “who is ugly”).

There is much dispute among linguists of Korean over whether it and similar stems should be categorized as verbs or adjectives.[1][2] The National Institute of the Korean Language currently supports the argument that it is a verb as the morphological past tense has a stative sense pertaining to the present, which is true of certain verbs (e.g. 늙다 (neukda, to age) > 늙었다 (neulgeotda, he is old, literally he has aged)) but not generally of adjectives (e.g. 예쁘다 (yeppeuda, to be pretty) > 예뻤다 (yeppeotda, she was pretty)).

References[edit]

  1. ^ 황화상 (2019), “'잘생기다'류 용언의 품사와 활용 [The part of speech and inflections of the calsayngkita-type stems]”, in Han-guk sajeonhak, volume 33, pages 182—212
  2. ^ 배주채 (2014), “'잘생기다'류의 품사 [The part of speech of the calsayngkita-type stems]”, in Han-gukhak yeon-gu, volume 32, pages 375—409