Tuesday, August 15, 2006

postal scrotum: about Glishkong

Kevin W. writes in:

The Wikipedia definition of Konglish: "Konglish is the use of English words (or words derived from English words) in a Korean context or a Korean dialect mixed with English loanwords. It also includes the use of words that are perceived to be English, but are in fact not English words. These could be words that have a different meaning in Konglish than they have in English, words that merely look or sound English, or words that are a mixture of Korean and English. Koreans usually use the word exclusively in the latter sense." The definition of "glishkong" has simply rehashed this definition by interchanging the words Korean and English.

Konglish is a lexical rather than an articulatory phenomenon, i.e. creating a different semantic referent in Korean for an English word, or substituting a different word/expression in Korean for an equivalent English word. An example of the former is "meeting"; an example of the latter is "eye-shopping." Apart from hangeul, kimchi cabs, ohiryeo, and chondaemal, the examples you give for "Glishkong" represent difficulties English speakers have in correct articulation of Korean phonology. Coming to terms with a different phonology is common for any language speaker attempting to use another language. However, English speakers anglicize other languages as well so it may be more correct to say that your mispronunciations represent anglicizations of Korean. Personally, though, I'd be more inclined to say that they were simply mispronunciations, just as the lexical errors you mention are probably more often just mistakes. 혼동어s maybe, but glishkongs or engoreans? I doubt it.

Mr. W.,

Thanks for the email!

You may have a point re: lexical vs. phonetic. I'll check into that. I do, however, have students and friends who refer to "a Konglish pronunciation" of certain words ("ooh-maahn" for "woman," for example), so the semantic field of the word "Konglish" does seem to include more than the merely lexical.

Yes, I noticed that Stafford had retooled the Konglish definition to give us the Glishkong definition. I think his intent was to get the word "out there" as quickly as possible, which I can appreciate. Since it's a Wikipedia entry, I expect the Glishkong article to take on a life of its own and evolve. In fact, I invite you to add your own edits to the entry.

I'm interested in your second-to-last sentence:

"혼동어s maybe, but glishkongs or engoreans?"

I hadn't thought about distinguishing hondong-eo from the other two terms. When Charles of Liminality coined the Korean term, I think (but am not sure) he meant for it simply to be the Korean equivalent of Glishkong. But the meaning of a term isn't "owned" by any one person, so it's interesting to watch that meaning as it already (!) starts to evolve. Again, please feel free to add your opinion to the Wikipedia article. I appreciate the feedback.

In the meantime, other people are free to respond to Kevin's letter and weigh in on the definitions of both "Konglish" and "Glishkong/Engorean." Has anyone else heard "Konglish" applied to consistent pronunciation errors, or am I alone on this? If I am, I gladly concede Kevin's contention, but I suspect I'm not.


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