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If you pass 이자 (alone or attached to a noun) to Google Translate or Naver Translate, they both translate it as "interest" but the same two apps also use it as a particle (a postfix) that seems to mean "and" or "as well". My (italian/korean) dictionary just define it as "interest".

See this sentence (that is my first attempt to describe myself to a korean friend using Naver Translate):

저는 분석 화학자이자 컴퓨터 프로그래머입니다.

Is this particle actually used to mean "and" or "as well"?

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-이자 consists of two parts: 이다 and -자. 이다 is just the standard copula, and -자 is a verb ending, which indicates both states are simultaneously engaged. So yes, it does mean "as well as" when it's attached to 이다 like your example.

  • 그는 나의 학교 선배이자 스승이다. He is my school senior as well as my teacher.

  • 그 일은 개인의 일이자 나라의 일이다. That matter is personal, and simultaneously national.

Other examples of using this verb ending are:

  • 대문을 나서자 빗방울이 떨어졌다. It started to rain as soon as I left the gate.

  • 날이 더워지자 냉방 기계가 잘 팔리고 있다. Air conditioners are selling well after the days have gotten hotter.

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  • Neither of your examples are specifically 이자 and I think they both are the 자(마자) "as soon as" conjunctive form, actually. Not the same thing...In this entry: koreangrammaticalforms.com/entry.php?eid=0000001727 the OPs "as well" or "is both (A & B)" is shown... I'm sorry, but I don't think these are the same..."as soon as" and "as well as/both...and..." surely seem different. – B. Alvn Apr 29 '17 at 4:54
  • 자(마자) I think only attaches to active verbs, and 이다 is usually described as descriptive...at least it is surely not an action of any sort... The above referenced entry describes 이자 as "dialect/semi-formal" and I have to wonder how common this really is? @AlexBottoni where did you come across that sentence? I'm curious about that..thanks. – B. Alvn Apr 29 '17 at 4:58
  • @B.Alvn -자 and -자마자 are different. The standard dictionary claims the -자 in my above examples and -자 used in 이자 are the same word. Only the usage is different, and as a native, I feel the same way too. Also 이자 is 'semi-formal' all right, but DEFINITELY not dialectal. It is very common in literature. – MujjinGun Apr 29 '17 at 5:12
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    @B.Alvn "표준국어대사전", literally "Standard Unabridged Dictionary of Korean", published by 국립국어원 "Institute of the Korean Language", the official language institute of South Korea. The original version is on stdweb2.korean.go.kr/search/View.jsp , but Naver's Korean-Korean dictionary, which is easier to navigate, also uses a variant of the standard dictionary. Here's a link the definition of -자. – MujjinGun Apr 29 '17 at 6:11
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    @B.Alvn Also no, you can't attach "descriptive verbs" to -자, only "action verbs" or the copula 이다, according to the standard dictionary. – MujjinGun Apr 29 '17 at 6:18

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