If you listen closely to Korean conversations, you may be able to pick out some English words. Koreans use many loan words, the majority of which come from English. Sure they came from English, but they don’t necessarily mean the same thing in Korean language.
In other words, most of them make no sense to anyone who isn’t Korean. It’s called “콩글리시 (Konglish (Korean + English)).” When English native speakers encounter Konglish expressions, they are almost always confused, but at the same time, amused.
Interestingly, a new study from Korea University shows that British people experience a lot of difficulty figuring out the meaning of Konglish.
Let’s compare the inferred meaning by Britain students with the real meaning in Korea. (The question mark indicates that British students couldn’t guess the meaning of the words at all.)
The Inferred Meaning by Britain students
The Real Meaning in Korea
|스킨 (skin)||natural covering of your body||toner|
|세트메뉴 (set menu)||?||combo|
|원룸 (one-room)||a room||studio apartment|
|화이트 (white)||color||whiteout or correction fluid|
|비주얼 (visual)||relating to sight, or to things that you can see||appearance|
|사인 (sign)||a mark or shape that always has a particular meaning||signature|
|바바리코트 (Burberry coat)||?||trench coat|
|블라인드 (blind)||someone who is unable to see||window shade|
|솔로 (solo)||alone||those who don’t have boyfriend or girlfriend|
|버라이어티 (variety)||It consists of things which are different from each other||variety show|
|대시 (dash)||to run or go there quickly and suddenly||to approach a charming man or woman|
|본드 (bond)||a strong feeling of friendship, love or shared beliefs and experiences that unites them||high-strength adhesive|
|패딩 (padding)||?||bubble jacket|
Additionally, let me show you the most common Konglish expressions you guys should know.
|아르바이트, 알바 (arbeit)||part-time job|
|컨닝 (cunning)||cheating on a test|
|린스 (rinse)||hair conditioner|
|원샷 (one-shot)||bottoms up|
|핸드폰 (hand phone)||cell phone|
|리모컨 (remote-con)||remote control|
|개그맨 (gag man)||comedian|
|비닐백 (vinyl bag)||plastic bag|
|아이쇼핑 (eye shopping)||window shopping|
|와이셔츠 (Y-shirts)||dress shirts|
|에어컨 (air-con)||air conditioner|
|엠티, MT (Membership Training)||trips taken for the purpose of team building|
|오피스텔 (office-tel = office + hotel)||a multi-purpose building with residential and commercial units|
|더치페이 (Dutch pay)||Dutch treat|
|파이팅! (fighting)||Cheer up!|
|스킨십 (skinship)||physical contact such as hand holding and hugging|
|핸들 (handle)||steering wheel|
|셀카 (sel-ca = self + camera)||selfie|
|메이커 (maker)||name brands|
|헬스클럽 (health club)||fitness center|
|매직 (magic)||permanent marker|
|SNS (Social Network Service)||social media such as Facebook and Twitter|
|A/S (After Service)||warranty service|
There are so many Konglish words, so it would be impossible to cover them all. If you think of any other words I should include, let me know in the comments below. 😀
- Konglish. 2015. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konglish. Accessed September 7, 2015.
- wikipedia.org. 한국어식 영어. 2015. Available at: https://ko.wikipedia.org/wiki/%ED%95%9C%EA%B5%AD%EC%96%B4%EC%8B%9D_%EC%98%81%EC%96%B4. Accessed September 7, 2015.
- 조지은. 한국어 속에 숨어 있는 영어 단어 이야기. 서울: 박이정; 2014.
- Shaw R. Korean Konglish: The Definitive Guide. Connect Korea. 2014. Available at: http://www.connectkorea.com/korean-konglish-definitive-guide/. Accessed September 7, 2015.
- Kakaotalk emoticon. Muzi.