Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Official (and ever-growing)
Glishkong/Engorean/혼동어 List

This post contains examples of Glishkong: essentially, anglophone misappropriations [or reappropriations] of Korean words and phrases. Read the Wikipedia entry here. The entry was originally written by Stafford of The Chosun Bimbo on August 13, 2006, but because it's a wiki, authorship will eventually become diluted.

FYI: Charles of Liminality suggested two delightful alternative designations for this linguistic phenomenon: (1) Engorean, and (2) Hondong-eo (혼동어, 混同語, "mixed-up/confused language").

The following list is a compilation based on both reader submissions and whatever Glishkong examples pop into my noggin.


1. Improper usage of ohiryeo (오히려). (submitted by BigHo, 8/12/06) See the Korean Yahoo! dictionary on "rather" here, and the entry on "오히려" here.

2. From Mike Miller (8/13/06): "My pet peeve is expats who use the word "hangeul" to refer to all forms of Korean (spoken and written)."

3. Also from Mike Miller (8/13/06): "Sticking 'kimchi' on everything, eg. 'Kimchi Cabs' to refer to 총알택시."

4. The insistence on pronouncing any Korean "eh" sound (like the "e" in "bed") as "ay" (as in the word "bay," pronounced in North American English). Examples:

  • 배 (stomach, ship, Asian pear, times [multiplication]) is closer to "beh" than to "bay"

  • 개 (dog) is closer to "geh" than to "gay" or "kay"

  • 집에 가요 (I'm going home) is not "Jee-bay gah-yo," but "Ji-beh gah-yo."

  • This problem of mishearing vowels and consonants occurs rather frequently among Korean learners. If you can't hear the sound, then it's doubtful you'll be able to pronounce it correctly. Proper listening is important.

    When pronouncing the Korean 에 or 애, try to make a sound somewhere between the "e" in "bed" and the "a" in "bad." (submitted by BigHo, 8/13/06)

    5. Among many speakers of British English and almost as many speakers of North American English (in my experience, anyway), there is a tendency to pronounce the Korean "ah" (아) like the "a" in "bag," such that "Mister 강" becomes "Mister 캥."

    6. From "H" (8/14/06): eun/neun i/ga are hard to use and some people just completely drop them in sentences. Often this is perfectly natural but complete
    avoidance isnt. in terms of difficulty, they're the Korean equivalent
    to English articles, dont you think?

    7. Also from "H" (8/14/06): The sound "eo" (어) is often just changed to the "oh" (오) sound.

    8. Also from "H" (8/14/06): Some people who learn Korean informally don't know to use chondaemal [high-register speech]. And if you learn it from a textbook, you use chondaemal all the time.

    9. Also from "H" (8/14/06): Intonation is exaggerated.

    [Kevin's note re: (9) above: My mother thought I was exaggerating my intonation when she first heard me speaking Seoul dialect after my intensive course. She was wowed by how much my Korean had improved (still got a long way to go), but she thought I was taking the intonation too far. Then she checked my intonation against what she was hearing on her beloved Korean dramas, and realized I wasn't exaggerating that much at all. This isn't to say that I or other non-native speakers don't exaggerate-- I agree that we often do. But there may also be an old-versus-new generation dynamic here: people of Mom's generation (she's from Seoul) tend to use a less theatrical, more sober intonation, in my opinion. It's the young'uns who sound more dramatic.]

    All reader submissions will be placed on this list and credited to the sender.

    NB: I hope people will approach the subject with good humor. Language learning involves making mistakes, and some mistakes are bound to make people laugh. My advice is to stop taking yourself seriously, and laugh when you trip up. Then-- be sure to learn the correct way to say something so as to avoid making that mistake again. This list is as much for the Korean learner's benefit as it is for everyone's amusement. Sometimes the best way to learn is to get burned by native speakers (or speakers more competent than you). May this list burn you, and may you learn from the experience.

    By the way, if you believe an item on the list is not 혼동어, feel free to contest it. I'll place your claim in this post, and we'll put you to the test as others assess your claim.


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