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South Korea's Linguistic Tangle: English vs. Korean vs. Konglish: A study of the relative status of Konglish and its parent languages in South Korea

  • Sean A. McPhail

Extract

Konglish is a blend of Korean and English found throughout South Korea, and often suffers for lack of prestige amongst Koreans. The primary aim of this article is to determine the reasons behind Konglish's low social status in Korea. I begin my investigation by exploring Korean public space as linguistic space, and examining in what social and cultural capacities Koreans use English, Mandarin, Korean, and Konglish. I then shift in part II to discuss perceptions of Korean and English inside Korea. Having analysed Koreans’ attitudes towards Konglish's parent languages, I discuss in part III why Konglish struggles for social legitimacy, despite its ubiquity. In the course of this investigation it will become clear that Koreans often deride Konglish for its ease of use. Because one absorbs it organically through cultural exposure rather than hours of study and millions of won in tuition fees, Konglish accords none of the prestige that comes with Standard English; meanwhile, Konglish's mixed nature means not only that it cannot benefit from the national pride Koreans associate with ‘pure’ Korean, but also that this pride harms Konglish's reception throughout the country.

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South Korea's Linguistic Tangle: English vs. Korean vs. Konglish: A study of the relative status of Konglish and its parent languages in South Korea

  • Sean A. McPhail

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