Don't murder me

Everybody is having the Korean craze, from the drama series to fashion to gadgets to language. OK. I’m no fashionita or techy so I’m gonna get a point to somewhere I mastered more or less. A lot of people had been murdering the Korean language, blame it to ignorance, mistranslation in subtitles and habitual use. So today let us start the new year with an improved knowledge on Hanguk-mal (hanguk: korea; mal:language). First, one must know that each Korean character (called Hangul) has an equivalent English letter in the alphabet. Therefore mispronunciation starts from this confusion because more often an English translation is misspelled thus changing the way it is spoken. 

Here are the commonly used/mispronounced Korean words by foreign speakers.

1. Ramen

Correct spelling: ramyeon (ramen is a general term for a noodle originating from Japan, when talking about an instant noodle in South Korea you are    actually referring to ramyeon)

2. Unni

Correct spelling: eonni (should be used only by a younger girl when calling an older female)

3. Nuna (should be used only by a younger boy when calling an older female)

4. Hyung

Correct spelling: hyeong (should be used only by a younger boy when calling an older male)

5. Oppa (should be used only by a younger girl when calling an older male; may also be a form of endearment by couples but not all the time)

When to use “yo”, “imnida”, “imnika”?

Korean language is similar to Japanese, where there are terms to signify different levels of honor. All the time, yo, imnida and imnika is used by anybody when talking to someone older regardless of sex or even with a 1 year gap.

"Yo" is the same as "imnida" but it is more friendly and less formal but still tags respect. It is often used by students when talking to a professor they are very comfortable with, to a freshman talking to his senior or when talking to a street vendor (e.g. Annyeonghaseyo) “Yo” could also be used when asking questions. For example, olmayeyo (how much)?

"Imnida" on the other hand is used when talking in front of the class, when attending a conference, when talking to the university president, to a politician or to someone you first met (e.g. Annyeonghashimnikka). “Imnikka” has the same degree with imnida but only used when asking questions and is found at the end of the sentence. (For example, Myot (what) shi (time) imnikka (is it)?

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