Battling My Favorite Konglish MishapsExcuse me, is that your handphone?” “Um no, but it is my cellphone…”
Ah, Konglish. A mysterious and hilarious menace to English fluency.
Most English students are unaware of how much “Konglish” they speak. Most of you can recognize the word hand phone as Korean English, but the term is still so widely used that I even find myself using it.
Konglish trends go much farther than this, though. Below are eight of the most common Konglish examples I’ve noticed, along with some tips to conquer them.
E.A.A.N.A.E. (English Abbreviations Are Not Always ENGLISH!)
Example: "Do you like this SF movie? I saw a CF about it, and I have the OST. I wrote about it on my hompy!"
Keep in mind that, although some of the abbreviations you use in Korea come from English words, they are not always correct in English! The examples above, like SF, CF, OST, and home-p are not standard English. SF would be Sci-Fi. CF is just commercial. OST is better as soundtrack, and hompy should just be the full word, homepage. Also watch out for things like choco and aircon… we don’t usually shorten those that way in English. Chocolate and air conditioner (or A.C.) are better.
Example: "Hey! Let's speak English-ee! For lunch-ee we can have a sandwich-ee, or some fish-ee, or how about sausag-ee?"
Okay. Some English words have “e” on the end, like sausage or cute. Usually, though, the final “e” is silent in English! Be careful! Also, we never use an “ee” sound at the end of a word like English or church.
I especially hate this one…
Example: Especially, I like swimming.
Every time I see a sentence that starts with especially, it kills me a tiny bit. In almost all cases in English, we put especially before the verb: “I especially like swimming.” Good. If you need something to start the sentence with, like a transition, try in particular. “In particular, I like swimming.”
So-so, same-same, blah-blah…
Example: "How are you?" "So-so. And you?" "Same-same."
So-so and same-same are so prevalent that even most foreign English teachers say them, sometimes. But please, try not to. If you are feeling so-so, so to speak, why not say just, “I’m alright” or “I’m okay.” In English, this has a more fluent sound with the same meaning. And instead of saying two things are same-same, use a slightly longer explanation, such as “Those are almost the same,” or “I feel the same about those.”
Moreover, don’t be so frank!
Example: "Frankly speaking, I like apples. Moreover, I like oranges!"
I find that a lot of students use very formal English phrases in speaking, and that they often use them incorrectly. Frankly speaking is one of the worst examples. We would usually only use this phrase when giving a strong opinion, most often a negative one. For instance: “Frankly speaking, I don’t like your boyfriend.” If you use this phrase for ordinary sentences like “apples are delicious,” it sounds very strange.
Another overused formal phrase is moreover. In most cases when students use this, it would be better to say also instead.
And so on, so forth, etc., and others.
Example: "I like coffee, tea, etc. I drink these at the coffee shop, home, and so on."
Etcetera (etc.) and so on are very overused by English students, especially in spoken English. Remember two things. First, when you use these in written English, don’t use and and etc. together. Pick one. Secondly, in spoken English, there are better ways to express this. A typical way in American English is to say, for example, “I like coffee, tea, or something like that,” or “I went swimming, jogging - stuff like that.” These ways sound much more fluent.
Do you do it? Me too.
Example: “I don’t speak Konglish!” “Me too!”
After three years in Korea, I almost have to stop myself from saying this. Most of the time, it’s alright to say “me too” if you agree, or have something in common. But when you’re agreeing with a sentence that has no, not, or never, you should always say “me neither.” (Or “me either,” which works virtually the same way.) Some examples: “I love apples.” “Me too.” / “I don’t like that guy.” “Me neither.” / “I never study.” “Me neither.” (Note: In real English grammar, “me too” should be “so do I”, and “me neither” should be “neither do I”; we usually wouldn’t say these in casual speaking, though.)
“Catch words” always catch you!
Example: "Wow, this ice cream is so dynamic! It's taste-holic! So cool!"
It seems that, in Korea, there is always an English phrase of the moment. For some time, everything was -holic, or story, and now I see “so cool” on half the signs in Jeonju. Worst of all, for a while, everything was dynamic – dynamic Korea, dynamic basketball, dynamic chewing gum. Too much! Not to mention that, when I asked my students what dynamic meant, they mostly responded, “Good!” Wrong! Be careful of overusing popular English phrases, and if you do use them, be sure you know what they mean.
Also, resist the temptation to quote a pop lyric every time English comes up. For example: “Did you do your homework?” “I'm so sorry, but I love you…” Aaahh!!!
Korean-style English will always be a little different than standard English, and that’s okay. Just don’t get discouraged when you find that you’ve misspoken! Keep studying, watch English television shows and talk to native speakers whenever you can. You can defeat your Konglish habits! Fighting! (But by the way… “fighting” is Konglish, too.) Cheers!
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