Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Wonderful World of Konglish

Notes of interest:
- The words earring and frog sound almost identical in Korean.
- Korean rafting is pretty tame.
- The mud festival is this weekend.
- I am the karaoke king.

I've been studying my Korean pretty hard as of late, much to the merriment and sometimes the anguish of my Korean coworkers. I've been trying to nail down phrases such as, "Why no, the kimchi is not too spicy," and the ever helpful, "Where's the hospital?" I've come to the conclusion that I'm pretty helpless as another language learner, but what the hay; it makes the Koreans laugh and it keeps me entertained.

One thing that's crazy about the Korean language is how much English it incorporates, and it's not obscure American words like "hamburger" and "liposuction" that they use. No, there are some everyday words like "haircut" and "corner" that have become Konglish terms. You can walk into any Korean barber shop (the legitimate ones) and ask for a "haircut-uh" and they will know what you are talking about. Never mind the fact that it's all downhill from there, as the language barrier comes racing back. I wonder though, what the hell did the Koreans call a haircut before English showed up. Was there just a blank spot in this country's vocabulary? Did they use a phrase like, "the action that we do that makes the hair shorter upon one's head," and then some Yank showed up and said, "Oh, you mean a haircut," and the Koreans were so astounded at the brevity of the word that they just had to adopt it? I think the linguistic explanation of Konglish is probably less imaginative than I think it is.

Konglish has made my life a lot easier. In Spanish, if I didn't know a word, I would take the English version, throw an "o" or an "a" on the end of the word and 50% of the time the word was right. Forty percent of the time the word just confused the other person and ten percent of the time the word insulted the other speaker. Now it's wonderful to learn that I can adopt the same strategy to Korean. I just take the English word, throw an "uh" on the end of it, approximate a Korean accent (my approximation of a Korean accent is shouting words out in a raspy voice) and then see what happens. I'll keep ya'll posted on the paths my Konglish speaking leads me down.

The Konglish List
English Korean
Coffee Coupee (not to be confused with Capee: a bloody nose)
Building Peulding
Corner Koneah
Cheese Chejuh
Taxi Taji
Video Bideoh
Chopsticks Chopsticks-uh (kidding)


Catinlap said...

"I just left my Peulding, and i'm now on the Koneah, eating Chejuh while i wait for a Taji so i can get some Coupee and a Bideoh." Now how do I say, "Would you like to come back to my place?"

theorris said...

저 망치에 나를 명중하지 말라.

sis said...

HAHA! What do they call bananas? Or banana? Wondering- going to through that on the end of Hanaha's name and see if it sticks.

karmaking1111 said...

To answer all questions:
JC say, "My-uh place-uh now-uh."
and sis, sorry but it's just plain "Banana". It's very tough to throw an "uh" sound on the end of the "a". A semester in linguistics taught me that.