Describing the People You Went to School With

In today’s lesson, we’ll be taking a look at words used to describe different personality types in the school environment.

범생이: a goody-goody
A: 야, 학교 앞에 새 PC 방 생겼던데 가서 게임이나 할까?
B: 너같은 범생이가 웬일이야?

날라리: someone who’s always messing around
A: 병수가 이번에 공무원 시험에 합격했다면서?
B: 그래, 학교 다닐 때 그렇게 날라리처럼 놀더니 졸업하고 정신 차렸나 봐.

찌질이: a loser
A: 나 이제 다른 여자는 못 만날 것 같아.
B: 헤어진 지가 벌써 3년째인데 아직도 못 잊은 거야. 찌질이처럼 굴지 말고 얼른 정신 차려.

폭탄: the least desirable person in a group
어제 4대 4로 미팅했는데 나한테 폭탄이 걸렸어. 운도 없지.

퀸카: the hottest girl in a group
A: 소문 들었어? 우리 학교 퀸카하고 정민이하고 사귄대.
B: 정말? 완전 미녀와 야수 커플이네.

킹카: the hottest guy in a group

범수는 얼굴도 잘 생기고 운동도 잘하고 공부도 잘해. 우리 과 킹카야.

선수: a player
A: 우리 오빠 정말 멋있어. 만날 때마다 좋은 식당에 데려가고 비싼 선물도 사주고 정말 잘해줘.
B: 조심해. 그런 남자 선수일 수도 있어.

짱: the best fighter in a school or group
A: 너네 학교 짱 누구야? 우리 학교 짱이랑 싸웠다는 소문 들었어?
B: 들었지. 그런데 우리 학교 짱이 이겼잖아.

Categories: Korean Slang!, Level 4, Level 5, Level 6 | Leave a comment

Describing that Perfect Guy or Girl

In this week’s lesson, we’re going to be taking a look at Korean slang expressions that describe different types of people. None of these expressions are quite as established as words like “hottie” or “keeper” are in the English lexicon, but they are still important to know. Every single one of these expressions didn’t even exist when I first got to Korea — that’s how new they are.

1.까도남 (까칠하고 도도한 남자) 까도녀

  • 김민석 씨 겉으로 보기는 까도남 같지만 알고 보면 정이 많은 남자예요.

2.차도남 (차가운 도시 남자) 차도녀

  • 이민주 씨는 완전 차도녀 스타일인데 남자친구한테는 얼마나 다정하게 구는지 몰라요.

3.완소남 (완전 소중한 남자) 완소녀

  • 김대리는 잘 생긴 얼굴에 유머 감각도 뛰어나고 다른 사람 배려할 줄도 아니 그야말로 우리 부서 완소남이다.

4.품절남 (품절된 남자, 이미 결혼했거나 애인이 있는 남자) 품절녀

  • 새로 들어온 신입사원 김재석 씨한테 관심이 갔는데 알고 보니 품절남이었다.

5.된장녀 (유래, 세 가지 설이 있다)

  • A: 우리 시원한 에스프레소 프라푸치노 마시고 가자.
  • B: 점심으로 2500짜리 라면 먹고 5,500원짜리 커피를 마시자고? 너도 된장녀였구나.

6.훈남 (훈훈한 남자-꼭 미남은 아니지만 성격이 좋고 인상이 좋은 남자. 보고 있으면 마음이 훈훈해진다고 해서 생긴 말) 훈녀

  • A: 소개팅 시켜줄까?
  • B: 좋지. 어떤 남자인데? 잘생겼어?
  • A: 조각 같은 미남은 아니지만 인상이 좋아. 훈남 스타일이야.

7.간지남: 멋있는 남자 (스타일이 좋은 남자) 간지 (일본말 ‘느낌’)

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Five Head-related Idioms

This video is almost entirely in Korean, but for advanced learners, I think it’s a good opportunity to learn some useful idioms.  I’m also going to be covering this on my segment on TBS eFM this Friday morning at 10:30.  Tune in if you’re interested.

주제: ‘머리’에 관련된 표현
1. 머리를 쓰다: to use one’s head

  • 이 책장은 어떻게 만드는 거야?
  • 그렇게 바로 시작하지 말고 생각 좀 하고 해. 머리를 써야지.

2. 머리(를) 모으다: to put our heads together

  • 이번 사건을 어떻게 해결해야 할지 모르겠어.
  • 너무 걱정하지 마세요. 우리가 머리를 모으면 방법이 떠오를 거예요.

3. 머리를 스치다: to cross one’s mind

  • 어릴 적 찍은 사진을 보니 잠깐 사이 많은 생각이 머리를 스쳤다.

4. 머리(를) 식히다: to cool one’s head

  • 미안하지만 나 잠깐 나갔다 올게. 밖에 나가서 머리 좀 식혀야겠어.

5. 머리에 맴돌다: (for a song etc.) to run through run’s head

  • 어제 선생님이 하신 말씀이 아직까지 머리에 맴돌아요.

Other idioms related to “head”:
우두머리: kingpin
골 때리는: shocking and ridiculous

 

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Fun Korean Idioms

In today’s lesson, we are going to continue our survey of Korean idioms and slang.  Just so there can be a unifying thread to the expressions, I’ve chosen to introduce phrases that start with the letter ㄷ .

These are arranged by frequency in daily language. The first ones are used quite often, while the ones towards the end of the list are less common, but still important to know.

1.
뒤통수(를) 때리다 – to hit someone in the back of the head
뒤통수(를) 맞다 – to be hit in the back of the head

뒤통수 is the word for the back of one’s head. It’s proverbial meaning is associated often with surprise attacks as one can not easily defend the back of one’s head. To get hit in this part of one’s anatomy in Korean means proverbially to be “stabbed in the back.”  When someone who you believed in and felt comfortable with attacks you, “뒤통수 맞았다” is the way to express this unexpected affront. When the offender is the subject of the sentence, the proper form of the sentence is “뒤통수 때리다.”

유의어: 믿는 도끼에 발등 찍히다.

예문 3 (쉬운 것부터 어려운 것까지)

  • a: 이번 주에 김부장이 회사를 그만 두고 경쟁사로 갔대요.
  • b: 입사 때부터 사장님이 그렇게 믿고 키워줬는데 어떻게 그럴 수 있어요. 완전히 뒤통수 때린 거네요.
  • 친구를 믿고 돈을 빌려줬는데 친구가 연락을 끊었어요. 뒤통수 맞은 기분이에요.

2.
뒤끝이 없다: to not hold a grudge
뒤끝이 있다: to hold a grudge

When describing someone who, after a little disagreement, seems to never forgive you, the 있다 form of this expression to use. Also, when talking about someone who immediately seems to forget and forgive after any altercation, the 없다 form of this phrase would be the perfect way to say, “He doesn’t hold a grudge.”

예문

  • a: 과장님한테 또 한소리 들었어요?
  • b: 네, 한번 화가 나시면 왜 저렇게 심하게 말씀을 하시는지 모르겠어요.
  • c: 그래도 과장님이 뒤끝은 없으시잖아요. 금방 풀어지실 거예요.
  • a: 지수는 마음이 넓은 것 같아. 화 내는 걸 별로 본 적이 없어.
  • b: 그래도 뒤끝이 있는 편이라서 한번 화나면 오래 가. 그러니까 말조심해야 해.

3. 뒤가 든든하다 – to have strong backing

Just as we describe someone with powerful allies as someone with “strong backing” in English, so to can this expression be used in Korean. If you can’t mess with a buddy at work because his Dad is the CEO, you could say, “뒤가 든든해서 막 다루지 못하네요.”

예문

  • a: 존은 뭘 믿고 저렇게 큰 소리를 치는지 모르겠어.
  • b: 존 집안이 보통이 아니래. 뒤가 든든하니까 그렇겠지 뭐.


4. 뒤를 보아 주다 – to have someone’s back / to cover someone

As with the previous expression, this idiom is used most often to describe someone who has powerful allies and shouldn’t be messed with.

예문

  • a: 젊은 나이에 저렇게 빨리 성공하다니 실력이 대단한가 봐.
  • b: 그렇지도 않아. 누군가 뒤를 봐준다는 소문이 있어.
  • 그 공무원은 불법 영업을 하는 사람의 뒤를 봐주다가 직위 해제 당했다.

공무원: civil servant
5. 뒷북치다 – to be behind the beat / to be a day late and a dollar short

A 북 is a large Korean drum. When someone is late striking the drum, the other musicians can’t keep the rhythm and the music falls to pieces. Being a few beats behind — in the conversation or project etc. — is described with this expression. To say to someone, “뒷북치네” would be akin to saying, “Get with the program” in English. This expression is also used when someone is carrying on about an event etc. that has already passed.

예문

  • a: 야, 이제 2차 가자.
  • b: 다들 1차만 하고 집에 가기로 했는데 왜 이제 와서 뒷북을 쳐?
  • a: 우리 가까운 데로 여행이나 갈까?
  • b: 여행 가자고 그렇게 조를 때는 못 들은 체 하더니 휴가가 다 끝나가니까 뒷북을 치네.

 

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More Explosive Korean Slang!

In the last round of Explosive Korean Slang, we took a look at some phrases that started with the double consonant, ㅃ . Today we continue on with the series, only this time we’ll be studying idioms and colloquial expressions that start with ㄸ . When pronouncing these letters, the important thing to remember is that you have to let the air pressure build up behind your tongue before releasing in order to create the proper sound. At first, this may take a second or two, but later on, when you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to enunciate the sound faster. Don’t hold back because your embarrassed — just go for it!

The order of today’s words is based on their frequency in day-to-day conversation.

1. 땡땡이 치다 – to skip (class or work), to ditch (class), to play hooky

There is no clear consensus on the origin of this phrase but there are two main schools of thought. Some people say that the genesis of the expression was the mark that teachers used to make in attendance books next to the names of students who were absent. That mark was — and similar marks are still — called “땡땡.”

The other, slightly more broadly believed idea on this idiom is that it comes from the onomatopoeia for a bell sound, which is also “땡땡.” Just as in the West, Korean schools have long used bells to signify the end of periods and the conclusion of the school day. “땡땡이 치다” could’ve have started off meaning that one wasn’t going to wait for the school bell to ring, but instead, ring it themselves — in their minds at least.

This phrase can be used to describe skipping out on any function that one was originally required to attend.

Examples

  • 너 요새 왜 그렇게 자꾸 땡땡이 치니?
  • Why are you always skipping class lately?
  • 오늘 또 교육 있는 거야? 벌써 몇 번째야? 그냥 땡땡이 치고 어디 놀러 갈래?
  • We’ve got another training session today? How many times has it been? Wanna just ditch and go hang out somewhere?

2.
대박 터뜨리다: to hit the jackpot
대박나다: to be very successful

Some say that this phrase comes from the gambling term “박,” which is the Korean word for the “pot.” Attaching the prefix to it gives us “대박,” which just means a large pot that has accumulated over many rounds of betting. This phrase may also have originally meant, “big ship.” In the old days, a large ship coming to port in your town meant increased business and lots of trade for all. There is even a third idea on the matter that says the term originates from the 흥부놀부전 (the Story of Heungboo and Nolboo). Heungboo planted seeds that he got from a swallow and they grew into a giant gourd. Inside were all sorts of treasures. Since the word for gourd in Korean is “박,” it’s easy to see how people would think that the expression “대박” came from this tale.

Irrespective of its roots, the phrase is most often used to describe someone’s very successful business venture.

Examples

  • 존은 장사 잘 된대?
  • How is John’s new business going?
  • 이번엔 진짜 대박난 것 같던데. 어제 보니까 네이버 ‘요즘 뜨는 이야기’에 걔에 대한 기사도 나왔어.
  • It seems like he really hit the jackpot this time. I saw an article about him under the trending news section on Naver.

In a new twist on the idiom, youngsters these days use the phrase “대박” to describe anything that is amazing or shocking. Here’s an example dialogue:

  • 어제 코엑스에서 내가 누굴 봤는지 알아?
  • You’ll never guess who I saw yesterday at Coex Mall.
  • 누구?
  • Who?
  • 빅뱅의 태양!
  • Taeyang from Big Bang!
  • 말도 안 돼! 대박! 싸인 받았어?
  • No way! That’s crazy! Did you get his autograph?

3. 시치미 떼다 – to play dumb / to feign innocence

The origin of this phrase is more clear cut than the others. This phrases dates all the way back to the days of yore, when raising and training birds for hunting was a common practice in Korea. With all the time and monetary investment that went into training a bird, one always took measures to mark the fowl as one’s property. A property tag that was attached to the tail feathers of these birds was called a “시치미.” When someone absconded with someone else’s bird, the first step in eradicating any traces of their crime was to rip off this name tag. To tear something off in Korean is “떼다.”

Dialogue 1

  • 너 내 책상 위에 있던 도너츠 먹었지?
  • You ate the doughnuts that were here on my desk, didn’t you?
  • 아니.
  • No.
  • 시치미 떼지 말고 사실 대로 말해. 그럼 입가에 묻은 크림은 뭐야?
  • Don’t play dumb. Just tell me the truth. If you didn’t eat them, what are those crumbs doing all around your mouth?

Dialogue 2

  • 어제 컴퓨터 고장낸 사람이 Mr. 김이라면서?
  • I heard Mr. Kim is the one who broke the computer yesterday.
  • 그렇대요. 그래놓고 계속 시치미를 떼고 있었지 뭐예요.
  • That’s what they’re saying. But naturally he’s just playing dumb about the whole thing.

Example

  • 이기상 씨는 자기 잘못이 아니라고 계속 시치미를 떼다가 확실한 증거가 나오자 잘못을 시인했다.
  • Mr. Lee kept playing dumb about the whole affair until we secured some concrete evidence and then he gave us a confession.

Now for the less-used idioms that involve ㄸ

4. 떼어 놓은 당상 – a shoo-in / a sure thing
Now we move on to the idioms that you can impress your friends with. This first one is especially timely considering the upcoming elections. Just as we describe a certain candidate as a “sure thing” or a “shoo-in,” Koreans use this expressions to talk about someone who will certainly win an election or contest.

  • 올해 Mr. Lee가 당선될 확률이 높아. 회장 자리는 떼어놓은 당상이야.
  • I think Mr. Lee’s chances of being elected this year are really good. He is a shoo-in for chairman.
  • 정민은 한번도 일등을 놓친 적이 없으니 이번 시험에 합격은 떼어놓은 당상이다.
  • Jeongmin’s never been anything but first place. It’s a sure thing that he’ll pass the test.
  • 대부분의 경쟁자가 출전하지 못한다고 하니 김선수한테 이번 올림픽에서 금메달은 떼어놓은 당상이다.
  • With most of her main competitors announcing that they wouldn’t be able to attend this year, a gold medal for Kim at the Olympics is a sure thing.

5. 떡 고물이라도 없나? Are there any table scraps for me? / How about tossing me a bone?

Amongst the various kinds of ddeok you may have encountered during you time in Korea, you may have noticed that certain varieties are covered with what looks like powdered chocolate. The first time I bit into what I thought was going to be an explosion of chocolatey sweetness in my mouth only to find out it was unsweetened ddeok and flour, I felt deceived and instantly turned off to the traditional dessert.

Knowing now, however, what to expect before I bite into it has made the ddeok much more of an enjoyable experience for the palate. Anyhow, these sprinkles of flour or whatever else, proverbially represent a secondary, or lesser profit. Just as in English, where a situation in which one person takes most of the profits and the glory and his or her supporters are left “eating the crumbs,” this express is often used when groveling for the leftovers.

  • 요즘 김 씨 집에 조카가 자주 오네요.
  • Mr. Kim’s nephew sure has been stopping by the house often lately.
  • 그동안 찾아오지도 않더니 삼촌 장사가 잘 되니까 무슨 떡고물이라도 얻어먹으려고 오는 것 같아요.
  • He never used to come by, but now that his uncle’s business is doing so well it seems like he’s always here to see if there’s something in it for him.
  • 너 요즘 사업 잘 된다면서? 너 힘들 때 내가 도와줬는데 무슨 떡고물이라도 없어?
  • I heard your business is really going well. I helped you out a lot when things weren’t so easy for you. Don’t you think you could throw me a bone?
  • 잘 되는 친구 옆에서 떡고물 얻어 먹을 생각하지 말고 너도 네 일이나 열심히 해.
  • Instead of trying to ride on my coat tails, why don’t you just focus on your own business?

 

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How to “Play” Instruments in Korean

Podcast 10: ‘Playing’ Instruments in Korean

OK, it’s finally time for one of those higher-level posts I’ve been promising to write for the last year. Somewhere around Level 2, you probably started learn the Korean pronunciations for western instruments. Later on, you may have learned the words for the different families of instruments, e.g., winds, strings, brass etc. (I’ll make a separate post dealing with this later). But chances are you still haven’t covered all the different ways of saying “play” depending on the instrument that is being played.

This issue — similar to the universal “wear” in English, and its absence in Korean — is an example of a single, all-purpose verb in English being expressed with a variety of different words in Korean. That is to say, playing a clarinet, violin or drum are expressed as “play” in English, but each case takes a different verb in Korean.

Many moons ago, when I worked as the music director at a Korean church in Los Angeles, this issue came up a lot. The children in the orchestra, who were mostly children of first-generation Korean immigrants, were not fluent Korean speakers. When we discussed orchestra issues in Korean a common mistake of the children was to use the Korean verb for play “놀다” along with the instrument that they played, e.g., “나는 바이올린을 놀아요” or “피아노를 놀 줄 알아요?” These errors are analogous to the common mistake of foreigners when speaking Korean to say things like “양말을 입었어요” or “모자를 입었어요.” These sentences should be “양말을 신었어요” and “모자를 썼어요,” respectively.

The correct verb is usually bound to the family of the instrument being played.

불다: to blow
This verb is appropriate for almost all wind instruments. So when you’d like to say “play the clarinet” in Korean, the correct form is “클라리넷을 불다.” This verb is also used for oboe (오보에), trumpet (트럼펫), flute (플루트) and traditional Korean instruments such as the piri and taepyeongso.

  • 클라리넷을 불기 시작한 지 얼마나 됐어요? (클라리넷을 얼마나 불었어요?)
  • How long have you been playing the clarinet?

치다: to strike, to hit
As you may have guessed, this verb is used for the entire percussion family, but is also used to describe playing the guitar. Apparently the action of playing the guitar can be seen has more of a hitting action than other string instruments. This is also the verb used for playing the piano

  • 드럼 치는 게 정말 그렇게 힘들까요? 좀 단순해 보이는데…
  • Do you think playing the drums is really that hard? It looks pretty simple to me…

켜다: to strum
This verb is used for most string instruments, including the violin, viola and traditional Korean instruments such as the gayageum and geomungo.

  • 처음에 왜 가야금 켜는 걸 배우고 싶었어요?
  • Why did you want to learn the gayageum in the first place?

뜯다: to pluck
This verb is also used to describe the playing of most string instruments but the nuance is slightly different. This action denoted by this verb is more of a plucking than a strumming, and this verb is rarely used to describe playing of any instead besides the gayageum.

  • 가야금 좀 뜯어줘요. 어떤 소리가 날지 궁금해요.
  • Play the gayageum for me.  I curious to hear how it sounds.

If you have any other music-related questions, please leave them below.


Categories: Level 5, Level 6 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Korea.net Article

 

There’s an article about me up on Korea.net.  I talked a lot about how I got started and what methods I used to learn Korean. Take a look if you’re interested.

Clicking on the picture below will take you to the article.

 

Korea.net Article about me!

Categories: On Korean | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Saying Your Age

I know I’ve already been over this a few times, but I just want to reiterate that this site will eventually be focused on intermediate to advanced Korean language learning. For the time being, however, I don’t have enough of a visitor base to narrow the content to a certain niche. If there are any advanced visitors, please bear with me for the next few months until this site gets far enough along that I can get by with only advanced content. Until that day, I will continue to offer an assortment of materials.

There are two number systems in Korean: Sino-Korean (of Chinese derivation) and pure Korean. At certain times one or the other is used depending on what is being counted, and sometimes both systems are used in conjunction, as in telling time.

Today we are going to take a look at the proper way to state your age in Korean. Besides a few rare exceptions, pure Korean is almost always used when discussing age. In newspapers, from time to time, you may see the word “세” preceded by a number, e.g., “25세.” In such cases, the age is read in Sino-Korean and pronounced “이십오 세 (iship-oh sae).” In real life, however, people rarely state their, or anyone else’s, age in this form and instead use pure Korean. The same age, 25 years old, would be pronounced “스물다섯 살 (seumool dasot sal),” using the pure Korean numbering system.

In pure Korean, each unit of ten has a unique name, similar to English. In Sino-Korean all one has to do to make twenty is say “2-10 (이십),” but this is not the case with pure Korean.

Let’s start out by reviewing the names of the pure Korean numbers in units of ten.
I’ll post a video about this soon. Watch the video or listen to the podcast for pronunciation help!

10: 열 (yawl)
20: 스물 (seumul) (drops the final “l” when followed by “살”)
30: 서른 (sawreun)
40: 마흔 (maheun)
50: 쉰 (shwin)
60: 예순 (yaesoon)
70: 일흔 (ilheun)
80: 여든 (yawdeun)
90: 아흔 (ahheun)

Now let’s take a look at pronunciation of the single numerals.

1: 하나 (hana)
2: 둘 (dool)
3: 셋 (set)
4: 넷 (net)
5: 다섯 (dasawt)
6: 여섯 (yawsawt)
7: 일곱(ilgop)
8: 여덟(yawdol)
9: 아홉(ahhop)

To state your age, simply choose the decade from the first column, attach the number of single years from the second group and attach the word “살 sal (age)” to the end.

OK, now it’s time to practice a few ages.

저는 마이클이고 스물다섯 살입니다.
(Jawneun Michael ego seumool dasawt sal imneeda.)
My name is Michael and I’m twenty-five years old.

저는 서른두 살인 김정민입니다.
I’m Kim Jeong-min and I’m thirty-two years old.

저는 열아홉 살입니다.
I’m nineteen years old.

저는 스물세 살입니다.
I’m twenty-three years old.

Here’s an example of stating age in the Sino-Korean way. Like I said, it’s sometimes written this way, but almost never spoken this way.

26세, 김모 씨가 어제 새벽 2시경 종로경찰서에 입건, 현재 구금된 상태입니다.
Mr. Kim (26) was booked at the Jongno Police Station at approximately 2 a.m. last night and is currently under detention there.

Categories: All Levels, Level 1, Level 2 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 49 Comments

Intensifiers and Adverbs (강조어)

In today’s lesson, we’re going to be taking a look at the different ways of intensifying a sentence in Korean.  There are a lot of tools in your belt when it comes to upping the severity of a sentence.  Just to give you a clear idea of what we’re talking about here, similar words in English would be “really,” “very,” “completely,” “immensely” etc. 

Some of these words also function as standard adverbs (i.e., in front of verbs) and in other capacities as well, but the role we are dealing with here today is that of intensifier.  For example, the role “very” plays when added to “She is beautiful” to make the sentence “She is very beautiful.”  Below are all the intensifiers you will probably ever need in Korean.  We could use the same example sentence for all of these, but I thought it would be more helpful to give you a variety of sentences to study with.

Formal

  • 매우 – highly, immensely
우리 회사가 매우 위험한 상황에 처해 있어요.
Our firm currently finds itself in a highly dangerous situation. 

  • 아주 – very
이번 신입사원은 아주 높은 경쟁률을 뚫고 합격했어요.
That new hire cut through some very stiff competition to make it here. 

  • 대단히 – greatly
오늘 행사에 참석해주셔서 대단히 감사합니다.
We are greatly appreciative of your attendance at today’s event.

Normal
  • 정말 – really, e.g., “He is really good at that.”
이번 시험은 정말 어려웠어요.
The test was really hard this time. 

  • 제일 – the most, to the maximum, to be the best at something
여기가 서울에서 제일 유명한 한식집이에요.
This is the most famous Korean restaurant in Seoul. 

  • 엄청 – “terribly,” “awfully” — as in, she’s awfully good at singing.
엄청 매운 떡볶이를 먹고 배탈이 났어요.
I felt sick to my stomach after eating some terribly spicy ddeokbokki. 

  • 굉장히 – very, remarkably
내일이 설날이라서 그런지 시장에 사람이 굉장히 많았어요.
Maybe it was because tomorrow’s Lunar New Year’s Day, but the market was very crowded today. 

Informal

  • 완전 – with a “히” attached to it, this word mean “completely,” but in this informal iteration it means “very” and is akin to “way,” or “super.”
그 남자 완전 멋져.
That guy is super cool. 

  • 되게 – very
여기 음식 되게 맛있다.
The food here is really good.
Categories: All Levels, Level 4, Level 5, Level 6 | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

“I’ve got mad Korean skills, yo!”

Korean Champ Podcast 9: Bragging in Korean about your Korean

 

Originally Posted: July 4, 2011

In today’s lesson, we discuss Westerners’ favorite pastime: bragging about their Korean skills.

Even nine years into my study of Korean, I still wouldn’t call myself “fluent” and honestly, I’m not even sure what that expression means.  Does it mean that I can say anything I want to in Korean, or that I can say everything in Korean that I can say in English? Or does it mean that I can speak Korean as well as a native Korean?  I’m not sure what that adjective entails, but I know that I would never use this word to describe myself.

Many foreigners start tossing this word around once they get to about Level 4.  I’ve gotta tell ya, for me, even Level 6 was more of a starting point than a conclusion.  And I finished Level Six all the way back in 2005.  I don’t know why I suddenly felt inclined to facilitate a behavior that I loathe, but I guess it was just the perspicacity to know that when you claim fluency, you ought to at least profess your “fluency” in a semi-literate way.

Also, I think many students of Korean are frustrated by Koreans always responding to them in English and say that they are fluent as a method of getting Koreans to respond in Korean.  So, if that’s the case, allow me to help.  Whatever your motivations, here are some ways to get your brag on.

유창한 한국어로

In fluent Korean

그의 유창한 한국어 실력에 모두 놀랐어요.

His fluent Korean surprised everyone.

그녀의 한국어 실력은 거의 원어민 수준인 것 같아요.

Her Korean is almost at the native-speaker level.

어제는 웬 일인지 한국말이 술술 잘 나왔어요.

I don’t know what happened, but yesterday my Korean was really flowing.

그 남자는 미국 사람인데 한국어를 거침 없이 잘해요.

He’s an American but he speaks Korean flawlessly. (lit. free from obstruction)

Some more modest statements (When in Rome, folks…)

유창하게 하려면 아직 멀었어요.

I’m still far from being fluent.

조만간 저도 원어민 수준으로 한국말을 잘할 수 있었으면 좋겠어요.

I hope to sooner or later speak Korean at the level of a native speaker.

한국어 문법 실력은 이제 어느 정도 되는데 발음은 아직 멀었어요.

I’m starting to get a handle on Korean grammar, but I’ve still got a long way to go with the pronunciation.

Categories: All Levels, Level 3, Level 4, Level 5, Level 6 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments