In the world of North Korean courtship, a person might ask their crush to “go for a walk”. In South Korea, the same couple would go on a “date”. The evening in North Korea could end with the couple eating “eskimos”, while in the South they would snack on “ice cream”.
While North and South Korea technically speak the same language, more than 70 years of division has given rise to a host of differences in vocabulary, especially with words that entered the language after 1945.
Amid a rapprochement between the two Koreas after three summits this year between the leaders, South Korean officials are working to restart efforts to create a unified dictionary and bridge the language divide.
The South Korean prime minister, Lee Nak-yeon, made the latest overture on a day marking 572 years since the invention of the Korean alphabet – or hangeul – which is used in both the North and the South, although they disagree on the name and it is called chosongul in the North.
“We were of one nation when King Sejong invented hangeul. But the Cold War divided the Korean tribe and its territory into two,” Lee said, referring to the ruler who created the alphabet in 1446. “The 70 years of division is changing the meaning and use of Korean words in the South and the North.”
After the division of the Korean peninsula, many new words in the South have been taken from English while North Korean officials have strived to use purely Korean terms. If a football player is fouled inside the box in North Korea, they would be allowed an “11-metre foot kick” while in the South it is known simply as “penalty kick”.
Former president Roh Moo-hyun, who pushed a policy of engagement with the North, first proposed a “grand dictionary of the national language” in 2005, and it was expected to contain about 330,000 words. The last meeting for the project was held in 2015, before is was formally suspended in 2016 amid deteriorating relations between the two neighbours.
The South’s ministry of unification occasionally publishes lists meant to educate its citizens on the differences, and recent arrivals from North Korea often have trouble understanding people from the South initially because of the large amount of words borrowed from English.
People from both sides of the border can typically still understand each other without prior instruction.
But there are are also differences in pronunciation and spelling. One example is the word for “compass” in the North starts with an “L” and in the South with an “N”. Korean written in the North includes less spacing between words than the South and the accents vary considerably.
سایت تابناک از انتشار نظرات حاوی توهین و افترا و نوشته شده با حروف لاتین (فینگیلیش) معذور است.