My Korean Husband

Intercultural Life

Category: Konglish

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Hugh runs into this problem sometimes where he says something in English and is not understood because he hasn’t used the Konglish version of what he is trying to say. It doesn’t matter if his English was correct if they can’t actually understand him. My problem is going back to Australia and using Konglish words like English.

He also sometimes uses Australian English which can further confuse people. Instead of using the American English of “take out” he will say “take awayyyyyy” in Aussie English. Some people understand it, but some don’t.

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Sick Day

Sick Day

Koreans say “Zombie” as “Jombie”.

Make sure you marry someone who still loves you on your worst days! Though I am possibly this sick because he opened lots of umbrellas inside! (Joking).

Spring colds are the worst! You know when you can’t speak because your throat is so sore? Or your nose is so runny all the can do is jam tissues up there to try and stop it? Ughhhhhh

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The Sausage Guys

The sausage guys

For those who haven’t heard this saying: it means when you go out or are at a party and there are almost no girls at all. It’s especially bad if the guys are hoping to meet girls and there are only guys.

Mr Gwon knows this saying but sometimes says “sausage party” instead. He knows a bunch of guys who every time they go out are too shy to talk to any girls even though they want to meet girls. Mr Gwon and one other friend are the only ones confident enough to talk to girls but are also the only ones with partners and are not interested to talking to girls!

Even if Mr Gwon and his friend introduce girls to these guys, they just sit there in stunned silence. But then… the next time they go out they want him to go talk to girls and bring the girls over to them again.

Every time he goes out with these guys it has been a “sausage fest” but he has decided to take that saying and use it in a different way and now calls those guys “the sausage guys” because it will always be a sausage fest with them because they are incapable of talking to any girls at all. He gets really annoyed about it.

I think it’s pretty funny Konglish. I really hope it catches on and groups of guys who want to talk to girls but never make a move, and just stare awkwardly, get called “sausage guys”.

It’s even funnier when he says it with a strong Korean accent and it becomes “sau-sage-jeeee”.

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Natalie asks:

Do you have any more Konglish experiences you could write about? Or is does this not happen too often anymore?

It still happens, but not as much with my husband. My husband is really aware of what is Konglish and what is English. This happened earlier in the relationship though:

So when I think of custard I think of delicious custard that is a LIQUID usually to be poured over desserts, but I do enjoy it by itself too. Home made or store bought- I don’t care, I love it all. I do not love what Koreans consider to be custard though. Technically on the box it says something like “custard cream cakes” and they are cakes with some vague resemblance of custard in the centre but my husband called it just ‘custard’. Custard is one of my all time favourite foods so needless to say I was a bit disappointed when he showed up with that. It’s the thought that counts though.

It does happen a bit where an English name for a food is used in Korea and the meaning changes a bit. Like the way Koreans use the name “Cream Pasta” instead of having specific names for pasta. It’s not exactly wrong, but not exactly right either.

So while my husband doesn’t have much trouble with Konglish now, it still comes up all the time with Korean friends. I think a big reason why this is a problem is because in Korea English is just not taught well in most schools in Korea. They should spend more time teaching the difference between English and Konglish instead of just getting students cramming for exams. There is nothing wrong with Konglish- some of it is so inventive – but unfortunately it can cause problems for Koreans tying to speak English to native English speakers.

Adele, who was in the previous comic, was asking me for something today. She kept saying, “Name pen! Name pen!” I had a vague idea of what she wanted but wasn’t exactly sure and I knew she didn’t just want a normal pen. Turns out she wanted a permanent marker. But she didn’t know that name, only the Konglish one and she got more and more frustrated when I couldn’t understand exactly. There are different names for a permanent marker in English, here in Australia we might say ‘texta’ or ‘laundry marker’ or variations, but I’d also understand American names like the brand name ‘Sharpie’ as well. But Adele’s attempts were just too far from one of the real English names. The funny thing is I actually found a Korean permanent marker in our apartment AND it actually says “Name pen” on it. No wonder Adele thought that was the right English.

Other Konglish that has popped up lately is ‘one piece’ which in Konglish means a dress, but would probably refer to the full piece swimsuit in English.

Skinship is another one and it usually needs a longer explanation. In Korea skinship refers to the point in a relationship where there is physical contact (hand holding etc). Most Koreans I’ve met (and I mean Koreans who have spent all their life in Korea) assume skinship is English and will use it in English conversation which no doubt confuses people who don’t know any Konglish. When they discover it’s not English they ask what the word is in English… but there isn’t really one. Some type of physical contact early in a relationship in Western culture isn’t a big deal and it’s normal to hold hands or kiss before actually officially being in a relationship so I guess we don’t need to label that.

I don’t mean to be too critical about Konglish. I love a lot of Konglish and use a bit myself. It just causes some confusion sometimes.


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Says the guy still learning English, who uses Konglish and makes mistakes all the time…

Konglish is funny. Some words make a lot of sense, others are weird or completely different to the real English word. While I do enjoy some Konglish the biggest problem with Konglish is that Koreans often think it is real English. Some Koreans come to an English speaking country thinking “I’ll be fine, I know lots of English words.” Big difference between English and Konglish. While some like interphone/intercom really don’t matter there are plenty that sound like gibberish to native English speakers.

Some we can guess but you are probably going to be confused if a Korean says to you: “Fighting! I need to buy some fancy and then let’s go back to my apart for some skinship and eat some cream sand.”

10 points to whoever can translate that.

The other night while out with Korean friends I was asked if I wanted to play some ‘pocketball’? What? I was pretty confused for a while. Apparently that is pool/billiards.

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Konglish: Mind Control


There are a lot of Konglish words used by Koreans. I haven’t even heard them all so I’m constantly discovering new ones. It’s not like my husband or another Korean can just list them all for me because they don’t usually know themselves that it is Konglish or English. There are different types too- ones that are English words mashed together or shortened, and some that are just an English word used in a different way. Some are easy to work out: Like ‘Hand Phone’ for cell or mobile phone. Except it’s said like hand-der-pone.

Anyway, I first saw this one – Mind Control – on G-Dragon. It’s one of his newer tattoos. For a native English speaker when we see ‘mind control’ we are thinking of something like brainwashing right? Either in the realistic sense of brain washing and manipulating the population like in dictatorships and communist regimes, or we are thinking about the more science fiction definition of controlling people’s minds.

So what do Koreans mean when they say ‘mind control’? From what I can gather when they use it they mean they are trying to control their thoughts (so you can see why they use these words) and concentrate, calm themselves down or perhaps just what we might call ‘collecting their thoughts’. I’ve heard it a few times since seeing G-Dragon’s tattoo and it always seems to be used in that sense.

My husband assures me that some Koreans understand the original English meaning. Usually gamers, because this type of power is in a lot of computer games. I assumed G-Dragon meant the Konglish meaning for his tattoo. That he simply wants to concentrate and be in control of his mind. BUT, what if he means the original English meaning? What if he wants to do mind control? To control his fans?!

I drew him with his latest hair style which he changed yesterday? The day before? Anyway he is in Paris doing fashiony stuff and that’s what he looks like at the moment.

One could argue that with his charisma he hardly needs the supernatural power of mind control anyway.

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Konglish- Fighting!

This happened about 3 years ago while living in an apartment in Sydney with my brother and a bunch of other people (some Korean).

I’d had a bad day and was upset or stressed about something. My brother was trying to cheer me up.

One of our housemates could see I was upset and came over to us.

I had no idea that he was using an English word in a Korean way to say something like ‘cheer up!’ or ‘try your best! or ‘you can do it!’ I just thought he was accusing my brother and I of fighting… which we were not doing at all.

I didn’t realise the real meaning of this Konglish until much later and when I remembered this incident it suddenly all made sense!


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