Monday, May 11, 2020

Some of My Favorite Konglish Examples From My Mission

Learning another language is hard. Sure, language difficulty varies in the level of similarity to one's native language, but that doesn't mean that it isn't a difficult process to even learn one of those similar languages, and with that difficulty comes language mistakes. This isn't a reflection of the intelligence of the person attempting to speak another language; frankly they should be commended for trying at all, but that doesn't stop it from being funny.

That disclaimer out of the way, I kind of want to share some of my favorite English mistakes I saw in Korea, a land where English is basically everywhere as much as a form of decoration as it is for convenience for us dumb foreigners who can't be bothered to learn the language there ourselves. Again, Korean and English are extremely different languages, so the fact that they even bothered at all is something that should be respected and celebrated, and it's not like English speakers learning Korean fare much better. For example, I once asked with a completely straight face if someone was evil when I meant to ask if they were weak, and I once mistranslated a line in church for an English-speaking member that Jesus suffered traffic for us. So please understand, this isn't coming from a negative place. It's just to have a bit of fun reminiscing on times long past.

"Don't trust the clouds. Do trust the Sunshine."

This was taken my first full day in the country, and it's definitely a stretch to call this a mistake because the grammar is fine, but it just sounds kinda funny.

Chicken Food

This one is as literal as it gets. No, it's not a place that sells food for chickens. It's a restaurant that sells food made from chicken. And it was pretty good.

Oryukdo Fishing Flaza

I don't really blame the sign maker for this. There's not even an F sound in Korean, not really, anyway. The closest is the H sound when pronouncing 후 (hu) not unlike the same syllable in Japanese. Because of this, the choice to Koreanize a word that has an F sound has the unfortunate choice of replacing it with a H or with a P, and naturally, the opposite is true here.

Flaza is still a funny word.

I like sing a song.

Okay, I'm pretty sure this one isn't even Korean-to-English since it's a Doraemon pen, a Japanese product, but that doesn't stop me from reading it like a stereotypical 80s valley girl.

ZISES is gift for you that dream beauty.

Plastic surgery is a huge market in Korea, so naturally you'll see it advertised a lot, but someone may want to check on the person who translated this line, since they seem to have had a stroke. Like...nine years ago. Oops.

You can read this one.

Again, really, there's no mistake here. The grammar is fine. It's an advertisement for Pocari Sweat, a popular sports drink in Asia along the same lines as Gatorade. And it's delicious. Even if real sweat is not.

No food. Only drinking water. Don't make some noisy please.

So this was inside a building on a university campus, and there are a lot of primarily English-speaking students in Korea, surprisingly. Still, "Don't make some noisy" is a good sentence to live by.

We have some yum-yum for you =D

This phrase was just funny.

I am breathing with my kitties they meke me awlays happy&smile I will be with them forever.

This was on a packet of tissues, by the way.

Let's have a nice, refreshing cup of Flesh Juice.

This one is probably my most infamous picture that I show everyone I meet and talk about Korea with, whether they want to hear it or not, and yeah, the L/R mistake in Asian languages is so played out by this point it's almost not funny anymore, but here it's just the perfect amount of absurd that it whips back into funny.

Much like Japanese, there isn't really an L or R sound, it's kind of halfway in between, so the way it's romanized in Korean depends upon where the consonant ㄹ falls on the character. Because of this, just pronouncing English words with Ls or Rs in them can be difficult for Koreans, let alone spelling them correctly.

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