S1 Ep18: There are many words to say “Playing a musical instrument” in Korean

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Vanessa: 18화: 저는 피아노를 치고 제 친구는 바이올린을 켜요

Chris: Episode #18: I play piano, and my friend plays violin


Vanessa: Hey Chris, How was your week?

Chris: Hi Vanessa, It was good as usual. What about you?

Vanessa: Same here.  크리스 씨, 혹시 칠 줄 아는 악기가 있어요? Chris, do you know how to play any instrument?

Chris: 음…저는 학교 다닐 때 첼로를 쳤었어요. 바네사 씨는요?  Well, I used to play the cello when I was in school. What about you?

Vanessa: 저는 초등학교 때 5년동안 피아노를 배웠는데 그 이후로 한번도 안 쳐서 지금은 악보 보는 법도 다 잊어버렸어요. I learned the piano for five years when I was in elementary school, but I haven’t played it since. so I’ve forgotten how to read the music.

Chris: Wow, It’s sad to waste away on knowledge as you learned for five years.

Vanessa: I know, right. I think it’s important to keep practicing no matter when you learn it.

Chris: You are absolutely right.  By the way, why are we suddenly talking about instruments?

Vanessa: Oh, I wanted to talk about expressions regarding playing instruments today. In Korean, different verbs are used to express playing depending on the type of the instrument.

Chris: Oh really? I thought the verb “치다” that you used to say played the piano was the one to use for all situations. I guess I was wrong.

Vanessa: Actually, there are three main types of instruments. There are keyboard or percussion (instruments play or produce sound by striking or tapping), string instruments (instruments play or produce sound through strings), and wind instruments (instruments play or produce sound by blowing with the mouth).  Each type of instrument uses different verbs in Korean because each has a different way of making a sound.

Chris: Interesting.  Could you explain a bit more?

Vanessa: For keyboard or percussion instruments such as piano and drums, the verb “치다 to hit ” is used. You’re actually hitting an instrument to produce a sound. This verb is often used to express generally to hit. For example, “저는 제 머리를 쳤어요 I hit my head”  use same verb 치다 to hit is used.

Chris: Oh, come to think of it, the instruments you mentioned are instruments that produce sound by striking or tapping. I’ve never thought of it that way, but it’s fascinating.

Vanessa: Haha, right? And for string instruments like violin, cello, or instruments that produce sound by vibrating strings. For these instruments, we use the verb “켜다 to turn on.”  And finally, there are wind instruments like flute and trumpet. These produce sound by injecting wind into them. That’s why we say “불다 to blow.”

Chris: Come to think of it, depending on how you play instruments to produce sound, your action shifts. The Korean language is set to describe the action or behavior in detail.

Vanessa: Yes, that is correct. Oh, but there is the exception. It’s the guitar. Although the guitar is a string instrument, it uses the verb ” to hit 치다.”  As people play guitar, they often play with their hands and hit the string directly.  That’s why the guitar is expressed as “기타를 치다.”

Chris: Got it. Wow, I learned many expressions that may have sounded awkward if I didn’t understand them today. As always, Thank you, Vanessa

Vanessa: Great! Let’s practice today’s lesson together!

Chris: Awesome!


Vanessa:크리스는 어떤 악기를 칠 수 있어요? Chris, What instruments can you play?

Chris:저는 첼로를 켤 줄 알아요. 그리고 기타도 칠 수 있어요. 바네사는요? I can play the cello and guitar. What about you, Vanessa?

Vanessa:저는 피아노를 배웠지만 지금은 못 쳐요.  I learned to play the piano, but I can’t play it now.


Vanessa:어머, 이게 무슨 소리에요? 누가 플루트를 불고 있는 것 같아요. OMG, What is sound? I think someone is playing the flute.

Chris:우와~ 소리가 정말 아름다워요. Wow, the sound is really beautiful.

Vanessa:네~ 그러게요. Yes it is.

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