Beautiful Korean Words Without English Equivalents
By: Shahzad Bashir
The Evolution Of Vocabulary In The Light of Culture
The evolution of language does not pertain to just simple addition or alteration of words. Rather, it is a depiction and inculcation of an entire cultural history. The intellectual property of a culture and its people is usually embedded within its language.
Hence, if you want to understand the traditional nuances of a culture, you first need to conceptualize the language.
Lost In Translation
Unique cultures constitute distinctive ideas that cannot be expressed in any other language than the original language itself. And if one tries to translate them, the meaning often gets lost in translation.
The Distinctive Nature Of The Korean Language
The Korean language is one of the most beautiful languages in the world. The rich cultural history of Korea plays a big role in making Korean unique. In this article, we will discuss some of the Korean words that have no equivalent words in the English language.
This is because some intricacies and feelings cannot be translated. Thereby, it’s better to adapt them in the language of origin. So that you can capture the distinctive beauty of the words that provide a pathway into the essence of the culture.
Korean Words Without Any Substitute English Words
Joeng is one of those words in the Korean language, that often do not get properly defined due to its complexity. Some linguists proclaim that it means “consonance” or “compossibility”. But if you simplify the meaning, it refers to the emotional connection among the people of the society that bonds them together.
The word dab-dab-hae is often used in idiomatic phrases rather than literal meanings. The metaphorical meaning of this term implies “strangulation” which often is a direct consequence of perturbation.
When a person is unable to utter any words or is aphasic, dab-dab-hae is the word that depicts that exact physical sensation. Moreover, if we simplify the contextual meaning of this word, it basically means anxiety.
Han refers to the sentiment of subjugation and authoritarianism. It is one of the few terms in the Korean languages that is backed by an intensive history of oppression and attacks the region faced.
It’s basically a word that depicts feelings of sadness that are collectively felt by a group of people. It’s important to understand that Han does not represent individual feelings or sentiments. If you say this word you are representing the feelings and emotions of an entire Korean nation.
Korean culture depicts a collectivist society. Parents and elders are kept in high regard. The word Hoyodo refers to this notion. One has to take care of his parents till the time they pass away. Koreans proclaim that parents are the ones who take care of their children their whole life. And the least they can do is take care of them in their old age.
Hence, Hyodo refers to the act of a son or daughter fully dedicating his or her time to ensure that their parents are getting help, love, and respect.
A lot of mothers want their children to succeed in their lives. But when it comes to Korean mothers, they take it a step further. They are very competitive and emulous in nature. Often Korean kids have to face the bitter truth of other relatives’ success. But the real problem comes when their mother tells them about it. And they do not only tell, it’s probably a complete lecture that Korean kids have to listen to. T
he literal meaning of the word eom-chin-a is “Mother’s friend’s son”. And usually, that person is always more successful than your own kid. He is usually referred to as the person you want your kid to look up to.
6. Nunchiga ppareuda
Nothing beats the conceptualization of hidden feelings summed up in a word, other than the Korean word, Nunchiga ppareuda. The literal meaning of the word is mindful or attentive. And usually refers to a person having a tendency to understand the undeclared or concealed sentiments of a conversation or a particular scenario.
Hence, this word is usually adapted as it is by other languages, especially English. Because if one tries to replace it with a translated word. The actual meaning might get lost in translation.
Nae-soong in the Korean language means someone who lacks originality and is phony. Such characteristics are not only ascribed to females but men as well. So people who act timidly in front of others, but default back to their original or normal self are usually called Nae-Soong. I
n Korean culture, such people are not appreciated. They are usually criticized by the general public. And people tend to refrain from indulging with such people, in any sort of way. Whether it's in a professional or personal capacity.
Empathy is an overrated term used in the English language. The meaning of the word is to understand the feelings of another and relate to them. Unfortunately, this word is not given the credit that it needs.
In the Korean language, the word Noon-Chi depicts the meaning of the word empathy but on a deeper level. It describes the sentiments of emotional content that a person feels towards his fellow mankind. And his ideas and emotions lead him to take action by helping the person in need. Moreover, some people are unable to empathize on a deeper level.
Noon-chi reflects the ability of a person to understand the body language of the person. He utilizes his empathetic side to look behind undertones and gestures. And conceptualize what the other person might be thinking, thereby, acting accordingly.
The Korean language is one of the most unique and distinctive languages in the world. The fact that linguists have been unable to find any links or associations of other languages with Korean, makes it one of a kind. Hence, there are a lot of words that cannot be translated from Korean.
On the contrary, a lot of the Korean vocabulary owes its origin to the Chinese language. But if we strictly talk about grammar, it's a bit different.
In this article, we discussed some of the Korean words that cannot be translated into the English language. The main reason behind that is, these words do not depict straightforward meaning. Rather they carry insight into the Korean culture.