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DICKS: Wrong English

December 7, 2014

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We know you want it. You love it. And we’re here to bring it. It’s time for more DICKS! In this episode we talk about a few loan words that are used in Korean. Sure they came from English, but they don’t necessarily mean the same thing in Korean. In fact, they can be used completely differently. There are so many of these, it would be impossible to cover them all, so we started with a few of the most common and the most perplexing. We call it Konglish (Korean + English). Some Konglish have completely different meanings, some have the same meaning but are incorrectly used, and some have origins we can only guess at. Check out the video to see which ones we cover, and if you’re curious about what other English words made it into the Korean lexicon, take a gander at our list below.

Non-existing words in English

아르바이트 (aka 알바) = part time job
오토바이 = motorcycle
컨닝 = cheating on a test
바바리 코드 = trench coat
오바이트 = throw up

Different meaning words

원룸 (one- room) = studio apartment
화이트 (white) = whiteout or correction fluid
올 A (all A) = straight A
린스 (rinse) = hair conditioner
원 샷 (one shot) = bottoms up
비닐백 (vinyl bag) = plastic bags
핸드폰( hand phone) =cell phone
리모콘 (remote-con) = remote control
개그맨 (gag man) = comedian
아이쇼핑(eye shopping) = window shopping
와이셔츠 (Y-shirt) = dress shirt
메이커(maker)= name brands

Even though I know that these words are wrong English, I just use them as is. No shame there. But what I cannot stand is corporate buzz words that are in English. Korean companies tend to throw English words on presentations, proposals, slogans or on their website about page.

“비전 (vision)” is not only a company’s vision but, it’s also used as an adjective. If it is describing a person it usually means someone ambitious, who has high achieving goals and takes initiative. When it is used in a sentence like, “that business has vision,” it means it will be a successful business in the future. Companies always put “글로벌 인재 (global individual)” as a description for what kinds of applicants they are seeking, but they actually don’t accept many people from around the globe. You’ll also hear “콘텐츠 (contents)” a lot to describe media or art. Oddly, it’s always pluralized. So icons like Mickey Mouse are a type of “Cultural Contents,” these YouTube videos are also “Contents,” and that fancy new iPhone app you just told your buddy to download? That’s “Contents” too. Basically the term “Contents” is misused left and right.

We couldn’t include every appropriated English word here, so if you think of any good ones we forgot, let us know in the comments below. Also, do other languages use the same loan words? And if anyone knows where in the world “one piece” came from, please tell us! We’re dying to know!

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DICKS: Wrong English

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  1. One Konglish that I found recently is 스텐드 (Stand) for desk/reading lamp. Maybe because it is free-standing, though I don’t think outdoor lamp is also 스텐드.

    Btw, for 컨닝 I think it should be in “Different meaning words” since we have that word “cunning” which the Konglish (and Jenglish) taken from.

    3 years ago
  2. I thought ‘Skinship’ was the English word for PDA. Oh dear Konglish is seeping into my vocabulary! I’m definitely using eye shopping from now on. People will think I’m going to the opticians or something xD

    3 years ago
  3. 호프 for ‘beer hall’ doesn’t come from English ‘hops’ but from German ‘Hof’, which in the original language just means something like a courtyard or farmyard, or by extension, a farm. If you ever see 호프 written in the roman alphabet, you’ll see ‘Hof’. For some reason in Korea, the German word became synonymous with draft beer.

    Korean does have many loanwords from other European languages than English, but many Koreans just assume that these words are from English. So many people think that 호프 is English, just as they do for 아르바이트 for ‘part-time job’ which comes from German ‘Arbeit’ (which just means ‘work’).

    It also explains why some words that are recognizable to English speakers have slightly different forms in Korean. 베테랑 comes from French ‘vétéran’, not English ‘veteran’, and 알레르기 comes from German ‘Allergie’, not English ‘allergy’. Many younger speakers are now saying 앨러지 due to English influence, however.

    3 years ago
    • Oh, and 콘텐츠 ‘contents’ is in the pluralized form because it is taken from Japanese コンテンツ ‘kontentsu’. Japanese can’t have a word ending with a consonant other than ‘n’, so a word-final ‘t’ in English becomes ‘-to’, but I guess whenever they can use the plural form they prefer it, since ‘-tsu’ sounds closer to a word-final ‘ts’ in English than ‘-to’ does to word-final ‘t’.

      Actually, a lot of the Konglish words listed in the video and the blog are just taken from English (or other European language) usage in Japanese. For instance, 오토바이 for motorcycle just comes from Japanese オートバイ, which is a combination of ‘auto-‘ and ‘bi-‘ from ‘bicycle’. The Japanese love chopping up and recombining English words creatively, which is fine, but I guess the danger is that many people end up mistaking them for words that would actually be understood in English.

      3 years ago
  4. Ahoy EYK Crew! I was wondering if the gang was interested in doing a video on Internet Slang; social media and gaming alike.

    Being a retired Professional Gamer of 12 years, my Korean friends and I would say things like:

    Gosu (고수) (Skilled)
    Hasu (하수) (Unskilled)
    Chobo (초보) (Newbie)
    xxx (뭥미) (What the heck?)
    Gaesoli (개소리) (Bullpoop!!!)

    I was curious if any of the crew or you lovely commenters here know of any more :) Merry Currzzmurss & Happy Holidays

    3 years ago
  5. 글래머러스

    3 years ago
  6. i think you guys forgot the most famous of all english words used in korean (in kdramas at least haha)… fighting!!

    3 years ago
    • I know 화이팅/파이팅 is a little more complicated than that because (this is what I’ve been told by Korean exchange students anyway) it is of English origin, but it came from the Japanese. So English -> Japanese -> Korean. I feel like that’s how some words formed in Korean that have English roots, that the Japanese made a lot of that happen during the Japanese occupation– obviously not all of them, but probably a few.

      3 years ago
  7. when you were talking about the korean words that couldn’t be translated, from what im gathering from your defintion could you say that “budam” be somewhat translated into “thirsty” like if you say a guy is really thirsty he appears to be desperate but definitely in a sexual sense (is budam more in a relationship or sexually?)

    3 years ago
  8. I want to apologize if I hurt soozee’s feelings in a comment a few videos back about “slangs”! We love you and you were both hilarious in this video :D

    3 years ago
  9. one of my favourite bizarre appropriations of english words is in Polish – “ksero”, it’s taken from the word Xerox and means to photocopy! It’s like they were pronouncing Xerox not in the way most English people do (“zerox”) but literally pronouncing the x’s (“kseroks”?)and just made themselves an easier version of the word to just mean photocopying in general… ksero. awesome :D
    p.s. soozee i’m mesmerized by your eye makeup in this video, looks amazing!

    3 years ago
    • There is this word “kulkas” in Indonesian that means “refrigerator”. It’s come from English “cool case” I think. Actually there are more-‘Indonesian’ words like “lemari es” or “lemari pendingin” which roughly mean “ice cabinet” and “refrigerant/cooling cabinet” respectively, but 99.999% Indonesian will still use that Indonenglish.

      One more bizzare word is “sempak” that used in Javanese and Indonesian. It’s a Javanenglish/Indonenglish taken from “swim pack”. It’s used for any triangle underwear/swimwear (Briefs, Panties, Knickers, … yes, any triangle ones is “sempak”) lol

      3 years ago
  10. I was wondering how you determine whether to say nae or ye when you want to say yes in a conversation? Does it matter which on you use? ;o

    3 years ago
  11. 에피소드 is an English word that is used very differently in Korea. In English, an episode refers to one part of a larger series and is almost exclusively used in TV. In Korean, though, an episode refers to an interesting story that happened.

    3 years ago
  12. You guys have some of the best endings ever! From Granny to DJ was just beautiful!
    This was so much fun to watch and a great follow-up to the last video! I really like hearing these “Konglish” words! They are easy to learn and to teach!

    PS – Service ROCKS!

    3 years ago
  13. 아르바이트 is actually the German word for “work”. The German word is “die Arbeit” (the “die” is a definite article that all German nouns have), and it means the exact same thing as the Korean word: work (as a noun, not a verb.

    3 years ago
    • I was totally going to say this if someone didn’t point it out already! Interestingly I learned that in French people sometimes use the English word job when talking about part time/side jobs (the way koreans say alba). “In petit job”

      3 years ago
  14. i got a question! when using loan words or using an english word in an otherwise korean sentence why do koreans add the extra “uh” syllable when something ends in a consanant sound? i get it with words like hamburger and computer, b/c they end in a hard “r” sound, even some english speaking countries (like brittan and austrailia) will say “ah” instead of “r” but words like service and one peice koreans and the “uh”. i remembner watching paradise farm and the horse’s name was forest and the girl called him
    porr-es-stuh. is there a reason for that or it is just about the accent?

    3 years ago
    • the thing about korean is that the way words are constructed is such that most words end in a vowel, because in situations where the word ends in a consonant, (i.e. 음악[eum-ak], which means “music”) , the consonant at the end actually isn’t really heard. so especially for foreign words, where they may want to emphasize the “t” in “forest”, they have the word end in a vowel.

      3 years ago
      • All languages have rules about what can and cannot begin and end a word or a syllable. As aimiiez said, in Korean, the extra “uh” only shows up in loan words like “arbeit”. ‘Native’ Korean words don’t usually have this issue.

        3 years ago
  15. I think 아르바이트 is a loan word from Japanese アルバイト meaning ‘part-time job’ as well, originally from German ‘arbeite’ meaning ‘to work’. So it’s not from English I guess.

    3 years ago
  16. This video is excellent! Another topic that I’ve wanted you to discuss, which is almost identical to this, is English words getting a negative meaning. Words that I am thinking of are correct English words, but over time in Korea, have come to mean something wrong. For example, when I first came to Korea I said “Oh, you’re so silly” to one of my Korean friends and they were really offended. After repeated (accidental) occurrences I realized that many Koreans think silly is a bad word in English to say about someone. Other words I can think of that have a warped meaning: weird, strange. Are there any other English words that someone should be careful saying when in Korea?

    On the subject of wrong English, almost all Koreans I know say “drunken” instead of “was drunk”, which really makes sense grammatically. =)

    3 years ago
  17. What confuse me when i first understand a tiny bit korean drama and variety language is the word

    “메 직 ” (I hope I type that correctly ) mejik is actually meant marker like whiteboard marker or permanent marker ? I was soooooo confuse I kept rewinding the video just to understand it. Hahahhaha

    3 years ago
  18. Hahaha this was such a fun video!! Thank girls!!! 수고 했어~ :D

    3 years ago
  19. I’ve heard of one-piece and two-piece bathing suits… maybe that’s where Koreans got the words from? They just applied it to all clothes in general.

    3 years ago
  20. Many of those you mentioned in your blogpost are already described by others, so please excuse double postings.
    However

    Non-existing words in English
    아르바이트 (aka 알바) = part time job
    >>as mentioned below, comes from German “Arbeit”, made it’s way to Korea from Japan when they tried to annex Korea.
    오토바이 = motorcycle
    A Jenglish word from about the same time as Arbeit.
    컨닝 = cheating on a test
    Again, Jenglish from the times of Annexation.
    바바리 코드 = trench coat
    Burberry Coat

    Different meaning words

    린스 (rinse) = hair conditioner
    This one also seems to come from the old days, when soap contained lots of alkali and stuff. So people rinsed(!) their hair with stuff that made hair comb-able again.

    와이셔츠 (Y-shirt) = dress shirt
    Most likely also is coming from Jenglish influence.
    White shirt became Wi-shatzu which became Y-Shatzu
    So with time it didn’t matter anymore if they where white or not. Everything is Wi-Shatzu now.

    3 years ago
  21. Zoe

    I’d have thought that “Hwaiting” would be the most obvious Konglish, understanding’s-ok-but-translation-into-regular-English-still-isn’t-quite-right word.

    When you say “Hwaiting”, in English the closest approximation would probably be ‘Good luck!’, ‘Let’s go!’, ‘Come on!’ or similar, whereas the original English word, ‘Fighting’ is the action of actually being in a battle or brawl. It’s a proper verb, not a cheer. Fighting an inner battle against your fears actually makes it quite appropriate though :-)

    I see @Stringbean below me asks about ‘Arbeit’, Japanese has the same loan word ‘Arubaito’ for part-time job I think? ‘Arbeiten’ I believe is the original ‘to work’ in German.

    3 years ago
    • i think the korean term “fighting” comes less from the definition “to fight” and more from colloquial uses like “he has a lot of fight in him” or “the fighting spirit”. in these instances the term “fighting” doesnt mean actual combat. it means to have determination and enthusiasm, which is pretty much exactly what the korean cheer “hwaiting!” means.

      3 years ago
  22. Could 아르바이트 possible derive from the German word Arbeit, which means work? They’re pronounced the same…

    3 years ago
  23. I think that onepiece and twopiece may be borrowed from ladies swimming suit jargon

    3 years ago
  24. DD

    베테랑 Veteran is one of the worst english adaptation in korean. In Korean, it means you are skilled more than expert while it originally means, …(sigh). seriously I once used this in wrong way and almost humiliate a person without a reason. It should be eliminated in korean expression. Soooooo confusing.

    3 years ago
    • Calling someone Veteran when they got long experience in a field is not a misuse though.
      Veteran is not an English word. It’s adapted from old Greek into many languages, and though the original meaning is a warrior who’s come home from the battlefield, it found other meanings as well. There’s nothing wrong with using veteran in the way they use it on korean tv

      3 years ago
      • Actually, “veteran” comes from the Latin “vetus”, meaning “old”, via “veteranus” and then into French, so was then adopted into English probably sometime around the Norman conquests. The Ancient Greek sound system didn’t have the concept of “v”.

        3 years ago
  25. I can’t speak for most of these non English terms but I do know 아르바이트 (part-time job). I had been wondering the origin of this word myself. I watch animes in subtitles because I like to hear the native speech even though I can only pick up few words here and there. It was then I heard the word arubaito. So at first I thought it was Japanese but it didn’t sound like Japanese. Recently I looked it up in Japanese dictionary and the word comes from German word “arbeit” so “arubaito” is a Japanese pronunciation of the German word “arbeit”.

    3 years ago
  26. Sometimes when I’m watching a variety show, and one of the guests is acting really funny or is being entertaining, the host will say “this guy has sense!” Or something like that. In English it doesn’t make much sense but I think I know what the host is trying to say and it has a nice ring to it! What exactly does it mean to “have sense?”

    3 years ago
    • I think it might be like a sense of humour.

      3 years ago
      • Oh I can understand that, thank you!

        3 years ago
        • i dont think it means specifically to have a sense of humor. i’ve heard it used in korean dramas in refernce to a sense of style as well as manners and even on occasion what americans would call “common sense”. in english unless we are talking about the five senses we almost always qualify the word; sense of humor, fashion sense, common sense.i think what’s happening is that koreans are dropping the qualifier and expecting the listener to infer the meaning.

          3 years ago
  27. Yay this is what I had suggested to you guys on YouTube!

    3 years ago
  28. babari kkodeu ? burberry coat? HHAHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA OMG GENIUS I LOVE IT sounds so luxury.

    3 years ago
  29. It worries me that I’m a Scotsman and have never heard of “tartle”. O.o

    3 years ago
  30. The word “ethnic” comes from the greek word “έθνος/εθνικός” (ethnos/ethnicos) which literally means “nation/national”. We use it for describing something traditional/old which relates to the nation (eg; old furniture or clothing).

    3 years ago
  31. The Finnish swear word Perkele has no translation, so it gets frustrating when others ask me what it means since I can’t explain it other than “It’s a swear word”.
    Fun fact, in Finnish we don’t use the letters å and c, even if they are in our alphabet. :P

    3 years ago
  32. V

    Check out our tumblr. We share pictures of Korean fashion items on which the translation into English just makes no sense at all^^.

    http://www.lostinsweatshirt.tumblr.com

    3 years ago
    • Your tumblr is great! My favorites were “See you tomorrow? No,” “You can walk home betches” (I could see this one being sold in the US), and “Wish you were beer.” I would buy all three of those!

      3 years ago
    • I gotta say, the “Wish you were beer” one looked legit to me ;-)

      3 years ago
    • OMG I CHECKED IT OUT AND THE ENGRISH IS AMAZING

      3 years ago
  33. OH MY GOD MY COMMENT WAS MENTIONED I AM SO HAPPY!!!!!!! AHHHHHH

    anyway this topic is like MADE for me we have so many English words that are used incorrectly and are just extremely to look at if you’re a native or fluent speaker:

    “Handy” means Cell phone
    “Basecap” means baseball hat
    “Beamer” means projector (like the ones in the movies)
    “Oldtimer” means vintage car
    “Body Bag” means huge travelling backpack/rucksack
    “Box” means speakers (like the ones you hook up to your PC)
    “Castingshow” means talent show
    “Shooting” means Photo shoot
    “Shooting star” means heavily successful newcomer
    “Zapping” means the act of quickly changing TV channels
    “Public Viewing” means the act of collectively watching a big sporting event in a public place
    “Showmaster” means TV show host
    “Hometrainer” means exercise bike
    “Slip” means women’s panties

    but the funniest is “Streetworker” which is somebody doing community service specialized on street counseling (not a hooker ok)

    3 years ago
    • gosh XD I never thought about it…. soo many
      best one is still : “coffee to go” means for take away
      and I really like those sentences where german is translated literally and doesn´t make aaaany sense at least if you don´t know german.
      like “I come in and make the door after me too” means something like: After I came inside I closed the door. +shiver+ so bad…
      or which is kind of misleading in general
      who sounds like “wo” in german which means “where”
      and where sounds like “wer” in german which means “who”

      :D german is such a nice language!

      3 years ago
    • *funny to look at

      3 years ago
  34. “grief bacon” is not 100% correct for “Kummerspeck”. Like, “Speck” can mean bacon but we also call the extra weight “Speck” so it’s more like “grief fat” than “grief bacon”.

    But yeah, the meaning was right. It’s the extra weight you put on from numbing down the pain by eating ice cream and other sweets if somebody broke up with you or something. It’s more of a joke, though. You won’t use “Kummerspeck” if somebody got dumped by his/her wife/husband after 20 years or if somebody died. It’s more for making jokes after somebody is almost over it again.

    3 years ago
  35. I find it kinda funny how 아르바이트 means part time job in Korean because “Arbeit” literally means “Work” in German, and “arbeiten” means “working”. I always wonder if there is some sort of connection there or not haha.

    3 years ago
    • It’s definitely from German – Japanese uses “arubaito,” with the same derivation. Actually, looking at the list, Japanese also has the same words for “motorcycle” (though more often we just say “baiku,”) “cheating,” “studio apartment,” “conditioner,” “plastic bag,” “remote control,” and “dress shirt”… I wonder if they got borrowed one way or the other?

      The Japanese word for a buffet is “baikingu” (right, like Viking)… that always really threw me. Does Korean do that too?

      3 years ago
    • It’s the same in Japanese. アルバイト (arubaito) is written in the Katakana alphabet, meaning that the word is taken from another language. I would think that means it comes from German, though I suppose it could come from Korean.

      3 years ago
      • looked it up in the dictionary.
        아르바이트 (Korean)
        Origin & history:
        From German Arbeit (“work, job”), via or influenced by the Japanese derivative of the German word, アルバイト (“part-time job”). The Koreans picked it up from Japanese, and the Japanese from German. This is why I love languages. ^_^

        3 years ago