KMK: Konglish 101

An experience in class after teaching for a few days…

Class: Teacher! John cunning!

Me: I guess. He does seem pretty slick that, John.

Class: No, teacher! Cunning!

Me: Okay, but he’s not master spy or anything.

Then I got blank looks and more screams of Cunning!

So that was introduction to the wonderful world of Konglish. Med Magazine defines Konglish as:

Konglish can be broken down into four types: (1) words whose meanings have been altered; (2) words that have been fabricated to mean something entirely different from the borrowed word or phrase; (3) words in which the pronunciation has changed; (4) and words or phrases which have been abbreviated. Konglish also incorporates ‘pseudo loan-words’: English terms that are used by Koreans but only after making a direct translation from Korean to English. One of the more obvious examples is the word Konglish, which is formed by taking the initial syllable of Korean (Ko), removing the ‘E’ of English and then combining the remaining parts of the two words.

So here are some of the more interesting Konglish I have heard since being in Korea.

Hand Phone = Cell Phone

Refrigelater = Refrigerator

Salaryman = Businessman

Cunning = Cheating One

Manicure = Nail Polish

Service = Gratuity

Dutch Pay = Paying Dutch

Officetel = Office & Hotel

Just Do Me = Nike‘s Just Do It

Eye Shopping = Window Shopping

Orangee = Orange

Strangee = Strange

That’s just the tip of the iceberg! Do you have any funny Konglish words or sayings to add to the list?

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I’m a blogger, writer, and teacher. I’ve been working in South Korea’s ESL field for the last three years. My one year contract has unexpectedly turned into a journey that I’m still on and loving.

'KMK: Konglish 101' have 14 comments

  1. July 12, 2010 @ 5:52 pm Jennie

    I love samesame!

    Student pointing out we were wearing the same Korea fighting t-shirts:

    "Look teacher! We same same!"


  2. April 16, 2010 @ 1:52 pm Pam

    walker=combat boots
    .-= Pam´s last blog ..Pamenology =-.


    • April 17, 2010 @ 1:22 am Phoenixstorm

      awesome, but I don't get the walker = combat boots connection…am I missing something?


      • April 17, 2010 @ 4:36 am Pam

        Neither do I! Believe me, I'm just as dumbfounded as you are.


  3. April 16, 2010 @ 1:51 pm Pam

    I am an online English teacher to Korean students and just yesterday, my student and I were laughing at the confusion Konglish words bring. Up until yesterday, I thought that being a salary man meant you worked in the accounting division of the company. Another Konglish word: walker=combat boots.


  4. November 24, 2009 @ 6:50 pm Brandon Heikoop

    While gratuity is something that is "free" many understand the word as a "tip", and it is rare to receive a "tip" from a server.I would term "service" as "no charge" or "on the house" rather then "gratuity".


  5. July 19, 2009 @ 7:51 pm Anonymous

    "Kill Heels": women's shoes where the heel is more than 10 cm high…


  6. September 6, 2008 @ 9:59 am Kalynn

    My Taekwondo Master (female) often said as a way to encourage us to work harder, "Do better than what you did it!"


  7. July 11, 2008 @ 3:47 pm Kristen

    Yep, I'm from South La and I say refrigelater all the time 'cause it's fun.


  8. May 27, 2008 @ 2:29 am Anonymous

    the 'ee' and 'uh' alternate based on the consonant sound and environment of the vowel.</></>My favorite is "Macguyver Knife" for 'swiss army knife'.</></>Check out 'Konglish Lexis' theres a huge resource ran out of there. Actually doing a term paper for my MA on the subject…</></>cheers


  9. December 10, 2007 @ 12:44 am Phoenixstorm

    Ooh, sweet, thanks for the quiz-uh link-uh.Did I flunk it already?


  10. December 9, 2007 @ 11:18 pm Amanda

    Look-uh, don't mock-uh my Konglishee.</></>I haven't a clue, actually. But, I scored 10/10 on this Konglish quiz:</></&gt ;http://www.funtrivia.com/trivia-quiz/Humanities/Konglish-101-203597.html


  11. December 9, 2007 @ 11:02 am Phoenixstorm

    Now I understand the emphasizing of E on words, but how does Uh come about with the word nice? That's Strangeee


  12. December 9, 2007 @ 10:54 am Amanda

    I say nice-uh all the time.


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