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Monday, 18 November 2013

HanGung-mal, i-ssibal saekki-ya! Mal hae?, Part I: Gyeongsang Dialect

HanGung-mal, i-ssibal saekki-ya! Mal hae? (한국말, 이 씨발새끼야! 말 해?) is Korean romanization for 'Korean, motherfucker! Do you speak it?' It is cue to the film entitled 'Pulp Fiction' with its famous tagline, 'English, Motherfucker! Do you speak it?'

In this column we will reveal the Regional Accents or Dialects throughout Korean Peninsula. On the first post, we will present about Gyeongsang Dialect. The Gyeongsang dialects (also spelled Kyŏngsang; Korean: 경상방언/Gyeongsang Bang-eon or 경상 사투리/Gyeongsang Saturi), or Southeastern Korean (동남방언/Dongnam Bang-eon), are dialects of the Korean language of the Yeongnam region, which includes Northern and Southern Gyeongsang provinces. There are approximately ten million speakers. Unlike standard Korean, some Gyeongsang dialects are tonal.

Gyeongsang dialects vary. A native speaker can distinguish the dialect of Daegu from that of Busan despite the two cities being less than 100 kilometers apart. Dialectal forms are relatively similar along the midstream of Nakdong/Rakdong River but are different near Busan, Jinju, and Pohang as well as along the eastern slopes of Mount Jiri.

Most Gyeongsang dialects have six vowels, a (ㅏ), e (ㅔ), eo (ㅓ), o (ㅗ), u (ㅜ), i (ㅣ). In most areas, the vowels ㅐ(ae) and ㅔ (e) are conflated, as are ㅡ(eu) and ㅓ(eo). W and y are generally dropped after a consonant, especially in South Gyeongsang dialects. For example, soegogi (쇠고기) 'beef' is pronounced sogogi, and gwaja (과자) 'sweets' is pronounced gaja.

Vowel harmony differs from the standard language. For instance, oneul (오늘), meaning "today," is pronounced onal (NOT anal, okay?). The main difference is that e is considered a central vowel. Vowels are fronted when the following syllable has a y or i, unless a coronal consonant intervenes. For example, eomi 'mother' is emi, and gogi 'meat' is gegi.

Gyeongsang dialects lack the tense consonant ss (ㅆ/Ssang-siot). Thus, the speakers pronounce ssal (쌀), meaning rice into sal (살). Palatalization is widespread: gy and ky are pronounced j and ch (i.e: Kimchi/김치 into Jimchi/짐치), while h is pronounced s (i.e: 힘 which means power, into 심). Many words have tense consonants where the standard is tenuis. Middle Korean z and β are preserved as s and b.

This is an example of Gyeongsang Dialect. Any differences with Standard Seoul Dialect?
Dialects are classified as Northern Gyeongsang or Southern Gyeongsang based on pitch accent. Northern Gyeongsang has high tone, low tone (short vowel), and low tone (long vowel), whereas Southern Gyeongsang has high, mid, and low tone. For example, Southern Gyeongsang distinguishes sóni 'guest', sōni 'hand', and sòni 'grandchild'. Pitch accent plays a grammatical role as well, for example distinguishing causative and passive as in jép-pida 'make s.o. catch' and jepída 'be caught'.

In Northern Gyeongsang, any syllable may have pitch accent in the form of a high tone, as may the two initial syllables. For example, in trisyllabic words, there are four possible tone patterns:
  • 메누리[menuri] ('daughter-in-law')
  • 어무이[eomui] ('mother')
  • 원어민[won-eomin] ('native speaker')
  • 오래비[oraebi] ('elder brother')

The Gyeongsang dialect maintains a trace of Middle Korean: the grammar of the dialect distinguishes between a yes-no question and a wh-question, while Standard Modern Korean does not. With an informal speech level, for example, yes-no questions end with "-a (아)" and wh-questions end with "-o (오)" in the Gyeongsang dialect, whereas in standard speech both types of questions end in either "-i (이)" or "-eo (어)" without a difference between the types of questions. For example:
  • "밥 묵읏나?" (Bap mugeutna?) as opposed to "밥 먹었니?" (Bap meogeotni?) or "밥 먹었어?" (Bap meogeosseo?) in standard Seoul Dialect — "Did you eat?"
  • "머 하노?" (Meo hano?) as opposed to "뭐 하니?" (Mwo hani?) or "뭐 해?" (Mwo hae?) in standard Seoul Dialect — "What are you doing?"

Notice that the first question can be answered with a yes or no, while the latter question is to be answered otherwise.
This phenomenon can also be observed in tag questions, which are answered with a yes or no.
  • "Eopje, geujya?" (업제 그쟈?) as opposed to "Eopji, geureotchi?" in Standard Seoul Dialect (없지, 그렇지?) — "It isn't there, is it?"

From the Park Chung-hee to the Kim Young-sam governments (1961–1997) and Roh Moo-hyun to the Park Geun-hye governments (2003 until now), the Gyeongsang dialect had greater prominence in the Korean media than other dialects as all of the presidents (except for Syngman Rhee [Pyongan Province, DPRK], Yoon Bo-seon [Chungcheong Province], Choi Kyu-hah [Gangwon Province] and Kim Dae-jung [Jeolla Province]) were natives of Gyeongsang province. That is why some South Korean politicians or high-rank officials have not tried to convert to the Seoul accent, which is considered standard in South Korea. Also, South Korea's lingual policies have not been so rigid to enforce the standard accent as in the UK in the past.

However, former president Kim Young-sam was criticised (when he was in office) for failing to pronounce precisely when giving a public speech. He once mistakenly pronounced '경제 (Gyeongje: meaning 'economy')' as '갱제 (Gaengje: a Gyeongsang pronunciation for '경제')' and '외무부 장관 (oemubu-janggwan: meaning 'foreign minister')' as '애무부 장관 (aemubu-janggwan: meaning 'love affairs minister')'. In addition, there was a rumour concerning one of his public speeches that audiences were surprised to hear that he would make Jeju a world-class 'rapist (관광 tourism -> 강간 rape)' city by building up an 'adultery (관통하는 passing by -> 간통하는 committing adultery)' motorway.

I think President Kim Young-sam a.k.a Kousuke Kanemura made the Korean Media Conference in the Cheongwadae a.k.a Blue House turned sour because of fucked up public speech. Sheesh.

I knew it! President Kim Young-sam has ruined his formal speech! Yikes!