Saturday, January 19, 2008

한국어 구어

During Thursday Korean class, I asked my teacher two questions on colloquial Korean language. The first question is on the meaning of 아니거든요 and the application of ~거든요. The second question is about what do Koreans mean when they use the sentence ending ~고요 or 구요.

I picked up the phrase 아니거든요 after watching Le Grand Chef on Wednesday. I was taught sentence ending, ~거든요, is used when a person wants to provide a causal reason for an action or thing that happens earlier. But quite often, it doesn't seem to me that Koreans are using ~거든요 to give a casual reason. 아니거든요 is an example. My teacher explained that 아니거든요 means "no" in a defensive way. For example, someone accuses you of doing something you didn't, you can say 아니거든요. The "no" in 아니거든요 has a stronger tone than the "no" in 아니예요. But when 아니거든요 is being used in a questioning tone as in "아니거든요?", the speaker is trying to say something like you mean you didn't do it? I don't quite believe you.

I guess I was right that ~거든요 does have more uses in colloquial Korean than what I was taught in Korean class. However, when I tried to ask about its other uses, my teacher couldn't really give a good answer. Similarly for my question on the sentence ending ~고요 or 구요, she found it difficult explaining the nuance which ~고요 or 구요 gives to a sentence. The best she could afford was to say that she uses ~고요 or 구요 in a positive manner. I didn't quite understand what she meant by that but I can empathise her difficulty in trying to explain a language point which is so common and colloquial. It is just like asking me to explain the nuances of Singlish's "lah", "lor" and "leh" to foreigners. What appears simple and natural to me may actually be very difficult to explain because it never occurs to me that an explanation is ever needed.

Colloquial Korean is hardly taught in my Korean class in Singapore. Nevertheless, I am still quite interested in learning them. Sadly, I have very little success in this area. I try to recall all that I have learnt but only two words come out. 당근이지 and 그렇지 뭐. 당근이지 means "of course" and is the colloquial way of saying 물론이에요 or 당연해요. 그렇지 뭐 means "so be it" (to a suggestion) in a can't-be-bothered manner or when there is no other choice given. I hope I have explained the meaning correctly as colloquial Korean does not have dictionary's explanation.

Come to think of it, perhaps I should not allow my attention to be distracted. My Korean isn't that good yet. There is so much more thing to learn that colloquial Korean should be the least of my concern. I recall during a class gathering, one of my classmates asked our teacher where she could learn 사투리 or Korean dialects as she thought that they sounded rather interesting. For one moment, I thought she was "more distracted" than me. But then, her Korean is much better than me. Oh well, by my Korean standard, I think I better stay focus. ^^;;


  1. Hi Equinox, thanks for writing so well on your Korean learning journey. Your perseverance to master Korean is inspiring indeed. I'm nowhere near intermediate level but if you were to recommend a Korean immersion course, which university would you prefer? Thanks!

  2. Hello, thank you for your compliment *^^*

    As for which university to recommend, its kinda of tough question because I don't have enough experience. ㅠㅠ

    Perhaps a "fail-safe" answer is Sogang University. Sogang is well-known for its Korean language program. Furthermore, there is course fee discount if you apply thru NUS Extension. Sogang is also located near to Sinchon, a happening place in Seoul.

    However, if you are "adventurous" enough, you can check the website of the various universities which offer Korean language program. I have their links under "Korean Language School" located at the right column of the page. Hope this will be helpful. ^^

  3. Stumbled upon your blog while I was searching for more TOPIK/KLPT info.

    Would you know how I can obtain more information on TOPIK i.e. how I can sign up for this year's exam?

    With regards to colloquial korean, alot of the nuances can be easily picked up by watching korean drama/movies/programmes... which I do for the sake of learning the language. It is amazing the amount of subtleties and nuances there are in this language; which makes it so beautiful and interesting!

  4. yeah i agree that 고/구 is harder to explain than 거든. when you asked me about it that time i also didn't really know how to reply! i'm also not sure when i picked it up.. but i think it's something like 又/还有..

    i think generally when your sentence can end with "..." you can add a 구/고?

    여자친구도 없고(구) 돈도 없구...
    여행 잘 갔다와! 건강에 조심하구...
    주말 잘 보내~ 공부도 열심하고~


  5. Suzanne, you can call Singapore Korean School @ 6741-0778 for more info. TOPIK is normally conducted in Sep.

    Kaye, I think I get you this time. The "..." explanation helps :D
    Sometimes, not explaining much is better.

  6. Well, but teacher are there to teach the language, so your teacher should have been able to explain it... just like you did lol.