1. I know that each four Chinese character remains in usage. But what about these 2 words?

Note that 잠시 is borrowed from 暫時, 실례 from 失禮. These words remain commonly used in Chinese.

  1. Even if these words never existed in Chinese, please expound if their Chinese characters semantically relate to their borrowed meanings in Korean?

      Yun (1993) also includes coysonghata (罪悚sorry, literally 'I feel guilty') as a honorific substitution for mianhata (未安sorry, 'I feel uncomfortable') as performative verbs of apology. Although the former is certainly more formal than the latter, speakers do not seem to strictly differentiate between these two forms on the grounds of their relative position with the interlocutor. Another vocabu- lary item showing alternation between contaymal (honorific speech) and panmal is the substitution of ney/yey ('yes') for ung. The casual ung appears to be a strong marker of non-honorific speech to which Korean speakers are quite sensitive. Indeed, the "learner stories" presented in Chapter 8 include one incident of an L2 speaker receiving a particularly violent reaction for misusing this term.

I added the links to Wiktionary. The original text didn't link. Lucien Brown, Korean Honorifics and Politeness in Second Language Learning, pages 33-34&pg=PA43#v=onepage&q=%E7%BD%AA%E6%82%9A).

Can someone please fix this URL for https://books.google.com/books?id=exUxjX7gbaAC&lpg=PA43&ots=FCOv7Hm1RI&dq=%E7%BD%AA%E6%82%9A)&pg=PA43#v=onepage&q=%E7%BD%AA%E6%82%9A&f=false?

2 Answers 2


They are not words in modern Mandarin. They are phrases in classical Chinese.

罪悚: literally "I feel guilty, I feel scared"

未安: literally "unsettled, uneasy" (Modern Mandarin has a similar word 不安)

The characters alone don't mean "sorry" in Chinese. They can be used in a sentence to express apology. I guess Koreans just took these characters out and condensed the meaning of the sentence into them.

罪悚 actually looks very serious in Chinese and I can only imagine it is spoken to someone as high up as the emperor. Someone once wrote this to his emperor: "臣罪万死莫赎。臣悚伏不敢言。" 罪悚 is like a condensed version of that. I guess it is not as serious in Korean.

When they see the two words, an ordinary Chinese person today will probably know the surface (literal) meaning of the characters but won't know their meanings in Korean.

  • Thanks Betty for your answer. What do you think of Tang Ho's completely different and opposite answer? He wrote "罪悚 and 未安 are not compound words in Chinese".
    – user11787
    Jul 1, 2021 at 5:51
  • @hims Well, I don't think it is completely different and opposite. After all, the first sentence of my answer is "They are not words in modern Mandarin." Tang Ho's answer is mainly addressing that aspect. My answer is saying that though they are not words in modern Mandarin, they probably originate from Classical Chinese.
    – Betty
    Jul 1, 2021 at 7:32

罪悚 and 未安 are not compound words in Chinese

罪悚 doesn't make any sense in Chinese

未安 can only be seen as an adverb 未(yet/ hasn't) plus the adjective 安(settle). This combination could appear in some context, for example, 國內未安,無力向外征伐 (The country hasn't been settled, unable to conquer outward )

Based on the Korean definition, 罪悚 means 抱歉, and 未安 means 慚愧 in Chinese

  • Hi Tang Ho. Many thanks as usual for your answer. What do you think of Betty's completely different and opposite answer? Betty wrote "They are phrases in classical Chinese."
    – user11787
    Jul 1, 2021 at 5:51

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