Is there a relationship between these two words (since they sound similar)? I always try to look at roots , meanings, and suffixes, like I do in other languages. Or is this just a coincidence ?
작다 - small
적다 - to be few?
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적다 means a few, a little. It can apply to a small amount of anything (countable or not doesn't matter).
To Koreans, 작다 and 적다 are very close concepts since a little or a few of something will have a small volume or count, so it's no coincidence that the two words sound similar. There are cases where you can even use the two interchangeably, like 작은 양 and 적은 양. 적은 양 would be the correct way but if you want to emphasize the visual aspect of it, you might use 작은 양. The point is: 작은 and 적은 are almost like two sides of the same concept.