2 Korean words that will probably sound weird if used in other languages.

I think sometime back I posted on my Facebook about some words that can’t be translated to English. I can’t remember what they are now ;p Will go through my posts tomorrow. But here’s 2 words that I think can’t be used their translated form. It sounds weird for me when I use the translated form at least.

부닥하다 

There’s a direct translation for it in Chinese – 拜托了. And the English equivalent would be, “I’m counting on you!” I would say the Chinese translation is more accurate than the English.

부닥하다 is usually used when asking someone for a favour. For example, when asking for someone to help you do something (that might be a little out of the way for the person), other than the usual “Thank you”, you can go, “부닥해요!”.

It’s also used when meeting new colleagues, teachers or clients for the first time. For example, when you meet your teacher for the first time, after your usual introduction, you go, “앞으로 부닥드립니다!” I guess the Chinese translation for this will then be – 以后请多多指教。In English, I guess it’s…”Please guide me along next time.”

But really, using the phrase in English/Chinese, it’s just weird. Nobody says that or at least…It’s hard to say that without appearing like a bootlicker. But in Korea, it’s quite natural.

수고하다

The Chinese equivalent would be 辛苦了 and the English equivalent will be….”Thank you for your trouble/effort.” Sounds weird right? I do have classmates from China who uses it but it sounds a little weird in Singapore’s context.

When alighting from cabs in Korea, other than saying thanks, we tend to end it with, “수고하세요.” And the cab drivers will probably react more positively to this. I have had a cab driver who was really grumpy about helping me with my luggage but once I said the phrase, his reaction changed and explained why he was grumpy initially (or it can be that I gave him a 2000 won tip but…nah!).

Now, if I say, “辛苦了!” before alighting from the cab, I think the driver will look at me like I am weird.

수고하다 can also be used when someone complete a task? For example, after your project mate/colleague drafted out an email for you to vet, you can say, “수고!” to thank them for the effort. I mean, saying “감사합니다” probably works too but I think hearing “수고!” is probably more rewarding to some extend.

You know, I have never quite understand why the Koreans have so many words to describe so many things indirectly. I am starting to appreciate it a little bit now. Though I still don’t think that having a whole new set of grammar for indirect speech is necessary. Don’t even get me started on 다고/라고! Like saying an unreasonable request by quoting oneself makes it any better. pfft ;p

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2 thoughts on “2 Korean words that will probably sound weird if used in other languages.

  1. Hi. Was going through my emails doing some spring cleaning and stumbled upon a notification that said I subscribed to your blog. I don’t remember doing so but it could be that one time months back that I was searching for dance studios around SG that taught Kpop dances anD stumbled upon yours. Probably left a comment or two previously. Just did a quick read-through of your recent entries and wow, you’ve been to Korea and you’re a Christian too!

    Just want to say, keep up on writing your blog 🙂 I don’t really see any comments so I suppose your blog isn’t one of those commercial kinds (not that I look down on them or anything, but it has a different feel compared to really personal blogs that doesn’t belong to someone ‘famous’).

    I taught myself to read Korean last time but gave up when it came to grammar and counting numbers lol!

    I’m guessing you’re young, so stay vibrant and curious (in a good way)!

    I don’t know why am I writing so much haha.

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