My Korean Husband

Intercultural Life

Category: Korean Language (page 1 of 12)

Learning Korean and discussions about language

How to say Tomato?

How to say tomato?

Actually the Korean pronunciation of tomato (토마토) sounds similar to British/Australian pronunciation, but Hugh said many Koreans think it sounds cooler to say it the American way. As if it’s some example of English speaking skills and a way to show off! Many Koreans have a somewhat unhealthy obsession with American English which means they will judge other’s pronunciation of words if they don’t sound American. It’s unfortunate because Korean English speaking skills on a whole would benefit from exposure to more accents, not just an American accent. Foreign English teachers in schools are told to speak with an American English even when they are not North American. This obsession with the American accent, which they are already exposed to anyway, hinders Koreans when they have interactions with English speakers that have a different accent. And there are many types of English accents!

I have no problem with Americans saying “tomato” in a way is natural for them, but I scolded Hugh for saying it that way when there was no need to. He still gets judged on the way he speaks English, usually by Koreans who don’t speak English anywhere near as well as him! There is an idea many people have of how English is supposed to sound if you speak it well, but the reality is quite different. When a Korean adopts a strong American accent when they are not a native speaker (and haven’t been to the US) it can sound very jarring, especially to native English speakers that have a different accent. To me it sounds better if an accent is something that happens naturally and is not forced. So usually Hugh has a Korean accent and says some things in an Australian way and still has some slight tenancies he learnt in The Philippines.

I hope Koreans don’t continue to feel pressure to speak English in a certain way, even though it seems that I’m pressuring Hugh to speak the Australian way! hehe

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We talk about the rubbish man comic! Just because you know how to translate something doesn’t mean it sounds good in the Korean language!

Let us know what other comics you’d like us to revisit and talk about. They don’t have to be recent ones, we can dig up some older ones. We actually don’t remember all the comics so it’s fun to go back and have a look.

I have to be honest and say that I did know it sounded bad in Korean when I first said this to Hugh (before I made the comic). But I was being a bit naughty and seeing if he would react. He did.

The original comic is here!

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This is just one of the mistakes I’ve made in Korean! It’s hard learning a second language and not knowing how words are related or not related at all. At least Hugh got a good laugh out of my dumb assumption.

Our audience can be quite fragmented. We have people who only read the comics, people who only watch our videos and some who only follow the Nicholalala webtoon. This new series is a way of showing the comics to the YouTube audience and to discuss them further as a couple.

When I posted this comic there were people who said they thought the same thing, so I felt a little less dumb! Let us know what other comics you’d like us to revisit in a video!

Original comic is here.

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Rubbish

That sounds a lot worse in Korean… I’ve often heard Koreans use that when they describe someone really bad but “rubbish” in English doesn’t sound as extreme as that. This is why you can’t always directly translate things. I knew it was worse in Korean so I said it deliberately to get a reaction from Hugh. “Trash” in American English may be closer to the way the Korean word can be used, especially with the way younger people call people “trash” but probably still not the same connotations.

What other words or sayings can sound a lot worse when directly translated into English or Korean?

When I posted this comic on Instagram I had some comments like, “But what is the direct translation?” This still is the direct translation, but the point is that words have different meanings and connotations in different languages. It doesn’t always mean what you want it to. It can lead to accidentally offending!

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Remembering Names

He likes the TV show “Luke Cage” but always calls it “Lucas Cage”.

There always comes a point in multicultural marriages where you get scolded for something your partner does constantly as well. I need to try harder to remember Korean names, but Hugh also thinks so many English names are interchangeable. Luckily he has never called me “Nicole” before…

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Crowd

Crowd

“Oppa” is the Korean term that I often use for Hugh as he is an older male. It can also be used in the context of our relationship as a pet name. Unfortunately in a crowd there are many “oppas” so Hugh often assumes it’s a woman calling out to another guy, and not to him. If I call out “Oppa” to him it doesn’t really get his attention. Calling out “Hugh” also doesn’t get his attention if we are in a loud place. Lately I’ve been calling out “oi” in a very Australian accent and have found it works so much better! Especially when I stress my Australian accent as he knows it’s immediately me. The word “oi” is used quite a bit in Australian English.

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Hangeul Day

Hangeul Day

Happy Hangeul Day! (Also can be spelled “Hangul”). Hangeul is the Korean alphabet and Koreans are very proud of it, for good reason. I recommend reading about the creation of Hangeul.

When you first start learning Korean and discover how relatively easy the writing system is, it’s wonderful! Until you realise how hard Korean grammar is!

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