If you’re studying Korean, eventually the question will come – Do I really need to learn Neologisms? Is learning new terms and phrases really necessary to master Korean? Read this article to find out!
Current Trends in Learning Korean
A lot of foreign students come to Korea to study, and before the pandemic, their number gradually went up. Of course, not so many people could enter Korea during COVID. However, these days the number of tourists and foreign students is returning to normal. Spreading Korean culture worldwide obviously led to a growth of interest in the Korean language.
However, Korean is in its own language family. As a result, Korean language learners face lots of difficulties and hardships, no matter where they come from. In this article, I would like to draw attention to neologisms that are used commonly in Korea.
What are Neologisms?
Neologism is a new word or expression. It represents a language’s ability to grow and evolve with changes in generation, culture, and technology. Our society is changing very quickly – faster than ever before. There is a great number of various technologies and gadgets that emerge yearly. This is reflected in language and leads to the creation of new words.
For example, during the pandemic people wore masks and people could not see others’ faces. And, a new word appeared, “magikkun” which means mask fraud. The meaning is that someone’s face with a mask looks very different without a mask. This is because another person is pictured in your mind with a different appearance. It can be both positive or negative but indicates surprise.
Difficulties Understanding Neologisms
The young generation tends to use various neologisms or slang compared to older generations. On different social media channels, niche groups constantly create their own terms. Then, many of them make their way into the mainstream.
Thus, sometimes there are situations when adults do not clearly understand what youth are saying. Often, explanations are required even for native speakers. For those learning a new language, an understanding neologism is even more difficult.
One common neologism is “alba” which can be seen on billboards and advertisements everywhere. The term “alba”, is actually short for “aleubaiteu” which means part-time work. Obviously, without much context, it is impossible to guess as a non-native speaker.
The problem is that in most cases while learning Korean, or other languages, students are not taught slang or neologism. From my experience, a professor explained several trendy expressions because it was the chapter’s topic. But, it was only once over the two years of learning the Korean language. This is a problem because it is nearly impossible to function in society without knowing slang. Particularly in Korea where trends are picked up by the general public much faster than in other countries.
Solutions to the Problem
Then, how can we learn Korean neologisms? First, a lot of practice and language immersion is required.
Most Korean language books do not cover this topic. So, learners should look for extra materials with explanations and examples of use. One of the best pieces of advice is to communicate as much as possible with Koreans. This will help you to learn new expressions and realize the proper moment and situation to use them.
If someone does not have many chances to communicate with native speakers or still lacks speaking skills, then the easiest method is searching for information on the Internet. The most appropriate site is Naver where you can merely type, for instance, “neologism 2022” and learn everything by yourself. There are videos and articles with detailed explanations and also etymology which may help with understanding and memorizing.
In conclusion, I would like to say that there are no reasons to worry if you are not familiar with trendy words in the Korean language or another. Sure, it is highly recommended and very useful to learn as many words as possible. After all, the bigger the vocabulary, the more opportunities for communication you will have.
It is good to know neologisms and slang, sometimes you can show off your level of knowledge by talking to natives. However, it is not the most important part of learning a language. It is more necessary to know grammar, be able to understand others, and maintain a natural conversation.
Moreover, as I mentioned before, not every person knows the meaning of neologisms because only certain demographics use them in daily life. Finally, to know everything is impossible. So, from my point of view, learning only the most commonly used words is enough. Once you have completely mastered that, then you can start learning new words.
If you want to learn Korean neologisms you can Click Here and start with these 10 common Korean slang terms.