Monday, November 8, 2010

Konglish in the US and Korea

I am a second generation Korean American, who speaks basic Korean mixed with English when speaking "Korean." I say "Korean" because I think I'm speaking "Korean" until native Koreans or first generation Koreans smile at my use of "Konglish." What is Konglish? Konglish is the use of English words in a Korean language context. I notice my Konglish is most heard when speaking with my parents, since I talk "Korean" with no inhibition.

Here's an example:

"Umma (엄마), Chinese food muh goh sheepa (먹고 싶어) or Korean food?"

My mom, who immigrated to the US as a young adult, also uses a milder version of Konglish when speaking to our relatives in Korea. It's funny how she doesn't even realize that she uses English words in her Korean conversations!

I am not surprised that Konglish is also widely spoken in Korea. In Korea, however, English words are sometimes used out of context or made up words are used. For example, "fastaurant" is not a word in the US but Koreans may use it for fast food restaurant.

If you want to learn more about what is going on in Korean Konglish, read Rick Ruffin's article in Yonghap News by clicking

If you want to test your use of Konglish, try speaking Korean to a person who knows no English, then you will realize how much you depend on the use of Konglish.

Photo credit - Yonhap News Agency