Tuesday, August 15, 2006

postal scrotum: Charles on Glishkong/Hondong-eo

Charles writes:


Just read your postal scrotum on Glishkong. Some thoughts...

"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."

Personally, I have never heard the term used in this way, but this is primarily because I a) do not work in the field of English language education and b) do not speak English with Koreans. It does, however, sound like something Koreans would say. While Konglish may not have originally included the phonetic aspect, it has likely grown to include it. As you know, Koreans really like their "buzz words," and when one catches on they beat it to death ("wellbeing," "the Korean Wave," etc.). In that process, the scope of the definition is invariably broadened.

"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."

If I were to give you a definition of hondongeo as I first perceived the term when I coined it, it would be this: a Korean word or phrase that is misunderstood or misinterpreted by foreign speakers and used in a sense other than that which the word or phrase possesses in Korean. Yeah, so I suck at writing definitions. But the word was supposed to be exactly what it said: a "mixed up" word or phrase.

To look back at your Glishkong list, I would only consider #1 and #2 to be hondongeo. If anything, I guess I consider the term to have a narrower scope than Glishkong or Engorean. Pronunciation flubs are just that, flubs, and the subject/topic particles would not qualify unless they are consistently confused.

As another example of hondongeo that you do not have there (although it is a sort of extension on jondaemal), beginning speakers of Korean often confuse the use of honorific verbs (like jumishida for sleep, japsushida for eat, etc.). When they speak to someone with whom they feel they should use the honorific, they will often apply these verbs to themselves. That is, a foreign speaker might sometimes say "Nan eoje 11-sie jumusheotda" (yeah, I just gave up on the romanization at the end there). This is a great source of amusement to native Korean speakers, and a perfect example of hondongeo.

So, if I have any say in the matter, that's the direction I would like to see hondongeo go. But, as you said, once a word is released into the wild, it takes on a life of its own. Just like Konglish.


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