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U+C300, 쌀
Composition: + +

Hangul Syllables

시 ←→ 쌔



First attested in the Jīlín lèishì (鷄林類事 / 계림유사), 1103, as Late Old Korean 菩薩.

In the Hangul script, first attested in the Seokbo sangjeol (釋譜詳節 / 석보상절), 1447, as Middle Korean ᄡᆞᆯ〮 (Yale: psól). The Middle Korean p- is still preserved in many compounds where is the second element, such as 멥쌀 (mepssal) and 찹쌀 (chapssal).

Alexander Vovin argues in a 2015 work that this term could be a Japonic loan, connecting it with Japanese 早稲 (wase, early-ripening rice), with two assumptions:[1]

  • That the initial p- came from a phonological inability to render initial Japonic w-.
  • That the final consonant was originally present in early Japonic but had been eliminated in the insular languages.

Meanwhile, James Marshall Unger presents a case in a 2000 paper[2] that explains a possible derivation for Japanese terms like 早稲 (wase) that have alternating apophonic forms (standalone wase and compounding form wasa-), suggesting instead that these may be cognates with Koreanic terms.

Joo (2021) [3] argues that its earlier transcription as posal 菩薩 (bodhisattva) is in fact not a mere phonetic transcription but actually reflects its etymological origin from Middle Chinese, citing the case of a Japanese dialect using the same word 菩薩 (bosatsu) to refer to raw rice, and also a religious practice in Korea where a jar of grain is used to symbolize Buddha's body.


  • (file)
Revised Romanization?ssal
Revised Romanization (translit.)?ssal
Yale Romanization?ssal
  • South Gyeongsang (Busan) pitch accent: / 에 /

    Syllables in red take high pitch. This word always takes high pitch and also heightens the next suffixed syllable, unless it is 에.



  1. uncooked rice
  2. white hulled grains of barley, wheat, etc.

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See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vovin, Alexander (2015) “On The Etymology of Middle Korean psʌr 'rice'”, in Türk Dilleri Araştırmaları[1], number 25.2, pages 229-238
  2. ^ Unger, J. Marshall (2000) “Reconciling Comparative and Internal Reconstruction: The Case of Old Japanese /ti ri ni/”, in Language[2], number 76.3, pages 655–681
  3. ^ Joo, Ian (2021) “The etymology of Korean ssal 'uncooked grain' and pap 'cooked grain'”, in Cahiers de Linguistique Asie Orientale[3], number 50.1, pages 94-110