Gi: some linguistic trivia

Gi-character

Sancheong, 13 September 2013. Browsing the Donguijeon at the Sancheong international Traditional Medicine Fair & Festival, I learned some mildly interesting linguistic trivia about the word gi.

Gi words

First, some words which use the word gi as a component:

기(氣)분 좋다 Feel good
공기(氣)가 좋다 Get fresh air
기(氣)가 산다 Feel energetic
온기(氣)가 있다 Be warm
기(氣)절 하다 Feel faint
기(氣)가 세다 Be strong-minded
기(氣)력이 없다 Feel exhausted
냉기(氣)가 흐른다 Feel chilly
기(氣)염을 토하다 Show remarkable performance
기(氣)후가 안좋다 Be in bad weather
감기(氣) 걸리다 Catch a cold
… and an extra one provided by a reader:
기(氣)가 막히다 Be shocked, dumbfounded etc. (lit. Gi: is blocked)

And second, something which sounds rather far-fetched, but I’ll pass it on anyway:

The origins of the character 기 (氣)

The Origins of Gi

The Chinese character for Gi originates from the shape in the picture. This is a sketch that represents steam coming out of a rice cooker. The steam from the pot rises up to the sky, where it forms a cloud which then transforms into rain. Rain is essential for rice to grow. And harvested rice goes back into the cooker again. This cycle is gi, which represents the flow of energy, changing its form at different phases – solid, liquid and air energy.

Source: The Vitality (Gi) Story: Intimate Stories from Scientists (과학자가 털어놓는 氣이야기)(2006)

One thought on “Gi: some linguistic trivia

  1. I knew Chinese characters were drawings to look like symbolic things but I guess coming from Korean culture I’ve never thought about korean being the same case…in retrospect, ㅎ, looks like a man in a hat.

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