Korean Language Notes: What does 말미 mean?

ANSWER: leave (of absence); furlough; day off

From Dong-A’s Prime Korean-English Dictionary

The pure Korean word for “leave (of absence)” or “day off” is 말미, and the Sino-Korean word is 휴가 (休暇). And the Sino-Korean word for “to request a leave of absence or time off” is 청가 (請暇) since 청 (請) means “to ask” or “to request” and 가 () means “leisure time.” Right?

Well, this morning I was reading through my Chinese grammar book and noticed the following sentence:

From A Reference Grammar of Chinese Sentences

Notice that the Chinese reads as follows:

The teacher (老師 노사) today (今天 금천) has ( 유 (business) 사) [and so] requested (leave ().

Notice that the Chinese use “old ( 노) master ( 사)” to mean “teacher,” but also notice that instead of using (가) for “leave of absence” the Chinese used (가), which in Korea means “pretend,” “fake,” or “temporary,” as in 가면 (假面), which translates as “mask” but literally means “pretend (假) face (面).” So, when I saw the Chinese sentence above, I thought to myself, “Aha! I’ve found a mistake.” But to make sure, I looked up the word 請假 (청가) in my Chinese dictionary, and this is what I found.

The Chinese definition can translate as follows:

請假 (청가): to request (請求) for ( 급) a temporary ( 가) rest (休息 휴식) perhaps ( 혹) to take care of (辦理 판리) personal ( 사 (business)).

So, the Chinese word 請假 (청가) seems to be an abbreviation of 請假休息 (청가휴식), which can translate as “to request (請) temporary (假 가) rest (休息 휴식), which means the Chinese in my grammar book is not wrong, just weird. Here is how Koreans write the Chinese for ” leave of absence” and “to request leave of absence”:

From Dong-A’s Prime Korean-English Dictionary

From Dong-A’s Prime Korean-English Dictionary

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