I love Koreatown in the springtime…

Wherein I blog about all things Korean in Los Angeles

Pax Mongolica May 20, 2007

Filed under: Korea — Raven @ 1:14 am
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There was a time when the Mongols ruled half the world. Okay, I might be exaggerating a bit, but I’m too lazy to look up exactly how much they ruled. Suffice it to say that, like the Romans, they were all over the important parts of the world (I mean the parts they saw as important, which aren’t the same parts the Romans thought were important). And, like the Romans, they left stuff behind. Linguistic stuff.

I know how this linguistic stuff got into Russian. Russia was, naturally, one of the places the Mongols decided was important, and unlike the wimpy French and Germans, they weren’t deterred by the Russian winter. So they showed up and took over and left behind some words (I’m sure they left behind some babies, too, but those aren’t relevant to this blog post).

The Mongols also invaded Korea, which became their tributary for about 80 years. I am now discovering Korean words that have counterparts in Russian or the Central Asian languages. Granted, I don’t have too many so far. But here’s what I’ve got:

1. 가람 (karam). According to my dictionary, this means a Buddhist temple. Russian has the word храм (khram), which means a church or temple.

2. 만두 (mandu). This is a dumpling. Kazakhs refer to their dumplings as манты (manty).

3. 사랑 (sarang). This is not to be confused with the word 사랑 which is spelled and pronounced exactly the same and means love. This one, again according to my dictionary, means a detached room used as a man’s quarters. This may be a bit of a stretch, but I’m wondering if it’s related to the Mongol word sarai, which I’m told means palace, although it might mean city (I’m having trouble finding the exact etymology). The Russians, showing their great disdain for things Mongol, adopted the word and use it to mean barn (сарай).

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got so far. Maybe I’m reaching. But I think the parallels are interesting. Now I just need mdb to weigh in on these words in Chinese and someone who speaks Hindi (anyone?) to weigh in on the Indian variations, if any.

P.S. I looked it up after all. Read more about the Pax Mongolica here.

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One Response to “Pax Mongolica”

  1. mdb Says:

    And you won’t even push a button for me.

    Garam, one of the Korean words for Buddhist Temple, originated in the Sanskrit word Sangharama, which means “garden of the masses”. These are places where Bodhisattvas and Buddhist monks gathered together to study and practice Buddhism. Later this Sanskrit word came to mean Jeondang(temple buildings) as well.

    The Korean name of the dish is mandu (만두), literary derived from Chinese steamed bread mantou (饅頭), but it is actually more like jiaozi.

    (not Chinese)
    According to Mayamata the Master’s house room is called ‘vasa’ and Mistress house
    room is known as ‘ranga’ but in the Korean traditional architecture, the master’s room is called ‘sarang chae’ and the mistress house is known as ‘an-chae’.


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