Konglish! What is it? 콩글리쉬란 무엇인가요?

I work with elementary kids at a public school in the afterschool program. For all the stress it gives me (and the kids as well) I love it. Kids make me laugh, especially Korean children. When you are teaching in two languages, I do not believe making one language superior in the classroom where it is being forced with no choice is going to make it easier but that is another post. One of my favorite things about working with NNES (non-native English speakers) is that you get to hear a lot of their native language for various reasons: they are excited, they don’t know the words, they are rebelling against English. Whatever the reason, I take both languages as equal value in my class because luckily I speak Korean to an intermediate level. I get a lot of words that has been called Konglish thrown at me which I find very entertaining.

Kids know that in English class they should speak English. That being said, they sometimes throw out some very funny English! This funny English it affectionately called Konglish. The word is a portmanteau word  meaning “English words used in a Korean context/way or English words borrowed by the Korean language.” Most people know Spanglish. This is essentially the same thing. So I want to keep a running list here of the things my kids blurt out believe is pure English.

1.Cunning (컨닝)

This is the word they use for cheating by copying. Today in class, my kids were asked to write answers on the board to fix as a class. They kept yelling, “Teacher! Cunning! He did cunning!” Then they finally said “copy” but in Korean, copy is pronounced like Coffee in a Korean accent so I figured this is why the other word has been accepted.

2. Service (서버스)

This is the word used when you go to a restaurant and get something free as thanks for your patronage. If you go shopping here, you might be handed something and told, “Seo-bi-seu” or service. 🙂 Take it! It’s free!

3. Self (셀프)

This is another out and about term. If you are eating at a restaurant, you might see signs that say “Water self.” Self refers to you doing it yourself, they do not do this for you. A lot of Korean restaurants have water bottles given to you and you can use that, other smaller ones have a sanitizing box where you go get it from a water cooler yourself. Useful to know if you are eating that spicy kimchi and don’t know why you have no water!

4.Sharp (셔프)

This is just the word for a mechanical pencil. I guess because it’s always sharp? Hard telling, if you call a mechanical pencil, just pencil. You will be corrected.

5. S-line, V-line

These are beauty terms. S-line refers to hour glass figure and V-line is your chin shape. Koreans are vain people and surgery has become the norm. Don’t think I don’t love them, but if you weren’t very aware of your looks before coming here (especially as a woman) you will be after!

Hope you enjoy. I will keep adding to the list. In the meantime:

Do you know any Konglish words? If you do, please tell me. I love them!


2 thoughts on “Konglish! What is it? 콩글리쉬란 무엇인가요?

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