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November 13, 2014

KDrama Word of the Day: Michin (Crazy)

Picture of the Mad Hatter from Lewis Carroll's book Alice in WonderlandCrazy (michin – 미친) seems like the next logical KDrama word, continuing with the popular KDrama subject of mental inadequacy. We hear several variations on the 미친 theme in Korean drama. There are the insults: michinom 미친놈 – male crazy jerk, and michinyun – 미친년 female crazy jerk (or something even less polite than “jerk”).

Then there are assorted conjugations of the verb michida (미치다), to go crazy, such as the present tense informal michyuh/michyaw (미쳐), which means “[pronoun implied by context] is going crazy.” Inflect up at the end of the phrase and it’s instead the question: “Are/is you/we/she/he/they/it going crazy?”

This might be a good time to mention that even though the Korean letter ㅣ looks like the English letter I, and is usually Romanized as “i,” it is in fact pronounced “ee” like the Spanish I. Always. There is no short i sound (like “skip”) in Korean. So all of those “mich” syllables in the previous paragraph are pronounced “meech.” And the chi-something second syllables are pronounced “chee.”

Watch out, I feel another rant about Romanization coming on. English-speakers already have the tendency to mispronounce ㅣ, given the similarity of appearance to our English letter, so wouldn’t it make sense to use Romanization to counteract that tendency by Romanizing ㅣas “ee,” instead of reinforcing the tendency by Romanizing ㅣas I?? Pabos! 미친놈!


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