Thursday, May 18, 2006

what is a "one-piece skirt"?

In a comment that's still sizzling because it's fresh off the frying pan, Jelly (whose delightful blog recently celebrated its first birthday and hit the 10,000-visits mark) asks what a one-piece skirt is.

I puzzled over whether to put that term in scare quotes in my previous post, because many Westerners contend they've never heard the term before coming to Korea, and that the term must therefore be Konglish or Japanglish or some such. A quick search of Google confirms my own suspicions that some Westerners do know the term, but I still have no idea as to how widely used the term is in the West. At a guess, it's not that widely used.

A one-piece skirt is essentially a dress-- top and bottom-- that's all in one piece. In fact, when I heard the term in America, I heard it as "one-piece dress." In my previous post about WS (see second link, above), I may have inadvertently adopted the Konglish expression, which I've heard variously as "one-piece" (weon-p'i-seu) or "one-piece skirt" (weon-p'i-seu seu-k'eot).

Most people know about one-piece bathing suits. It's quite likely that the term "one-piece (skirt/dress)" is derived from that. Not having done the research, I couldn't tell you whether the term arose independently in East Asia as an example of "Engrish," or whether the term started in the West, failed to catch on there, and migrated across the Pacific to a friendlier Eastern clime.

[NB: It occurs to me that the Google results may be skewed by the fact that some Westerners knowingly or unknowingly adopt Konglish or Japanglish or Chinglish expressions after spending time in East Asia. Some Koreabloggers have written about their "hand phone," for example.]



Anonymous said...

Wait, you mean "one-piece" isn't standard English?

Man, my English is going to be so screwed up if I ever go back to the States.

(Although "one-piece skirt" is clearly not standard English because it just doesn't make sense. After all, how many people go around wearing two-piece skirts?)

Also, to get in my daily dose of anal retentiveness, I'm pretty sure that Koreans pronounce "skirt" as "seukeoteu" rather than just "seukeot."

Kevin Kim said...

See, Charles, that's the thing: I thought that "one-piece dress" was indeed standard American English. It was when I started teaching English here that I encountered both (1) Westerners who claimed that "one-piece" was Konglish if it didn't apply to bathing suits, and (2) Korean students who would ask me, "Kevin! Is 'one-piece' really Konglish?"

You're right: "one-piece skirt" makes little sense, and that's probably what prompted Jelly's question. In my post, I think I inadvertently fell back on Konglish.

As for "seukeoteu" versus "seukeot"-- I'll have to listen to my students more closely and look up Korean transliterations of the word. Given the lack of standardization in how Koreans render foreign words in Hangeul, I suspect that a Naver search will reveal both spellings-- or maybe even a plurality of spellings, since the final unaspirated "t" in a Korean syllable can be represented by more than one letter. I'd lean toward the Korean letter "s" as the most likely "t" surrogate.

As a side note, it's interesting to see how many young folks are genuinely concerned about whether a given expression is Konglish.


Jelly said...

Ah. See, like, you didn't use quotes, so I thought you were serious. I can tell you with some assuredness that the term is used NEVER in the West. Where did you hear the term "one piece dress" in the States? Again, as opposed to a "two pieced dress?" (Otherwise known as a skirt and top - and not a two pieced anything.) I first heard that term in Japan, "one pee-soo." But I've never heard the "skirt" addition. I'd have to agree with Charles too, that it'd be more "su-kuet-oo."

Sean said...

one piece is definitely konglish.

Kevin Kim said...

While I think the "it's Konglish" crowd may have a point, I'm curious to hear why Google shows so many Western results for the phrases "one-piece skirt" and "one-piece dress." The expression may very well be Konglish, but some people outside of East Asia are obviously using the term. Any hypotheses as to how/why this is the case?


Anonymous said...

I think it's a mixup between the expressions 'a skirt' (for a woman), and a 'fine piece of ass'(for a sexy woman). ;)