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September 24, 2015

Korean Word of the Day: Computer Hacker - 컴퓨터 해커

A frowning man's face with his tongue sticking out to one side in effort and his arms coming out the side of the monitor to type on the keyboard below itThe Korean term for “computer hacker” is such an obvious loanword from English that I just had to share it with you. If you have learned the Hangeul alphabet, you’ll know that
컴퓨터 해커 is pronounced kum (or kawm) pyoo tuh (or taw) heh kuh (or kaw).

(If you haven’t learned the Hangeul alphabet yet, check out my Games to Learn Korean page).

A “loanword” is a word one language has “borrowed” from another, that sounds a lot like the word in the original language. English is full of them, especially loanwords from French. Korean has a very high percentage (estimates vary) of loanwords from Chinese, but when you start getting into terms for technology and popular culture, you find more English loanwords. Korean also has English loanwords for things that don’t have an exactly equivalent Asian concept, like 뱀파이어 (vampire).

Some Korean words that sound like loanwords from English are actually loanwords from the same language that English borrowed it from (for example, 레스토랑 – restaurant, which is, of course, a French word).

You may be wondering what the difference is between the three Korean g/k-ish letters, ㄱ, ㄲ, and ㅋ. You are not alone! Here’s the best explanation I’ve found, not only for hearing the differences, but for speaking them.

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