Making words to not use…

Language is of course something that interests me…I’m an EFL teacher. In some countries it’s a symbol of national pride and in others it’s a representation of culture.

I’ve always found it interesting that France has an official government division to make up words to keep foreign words out of the French lexicon. Note because of spelling or pronunciation issues, but simply to keep the French language “pure.”

Korea, on the other hand, has the same type of office, but to unify the way new foreign words are spelled. It took me a LONG time, I’m a bit embarrassed to say, to realize that 스테페느 (suhte-be-nuh) is Steven but with a more English accent.

One thing that amazes me is that someone decided that a word to describe someone of Korean descent that didn’t spend their entire life in Korea needed to be invented and so 교포 (kyopo). But what I find interesting is that I very rarely hear a Korean say kyopo, I would guess that I hear waygukin (foreigner) about 95% to describe someone of Korean descent who did not spend most of their lives in Korea. What was the point of creating a specific word to describe a growing, significant group of people related to your culture and not use the word???

I asked my co-teacher about this situation…and her response was to think about her own usage of the word. She was telling me that originally it was all people of Korean descent that weren’t Korean citizens, but now because  there are more Asian-looking but non-Koreans in Korea, many Koreans have shrunk the meaning to be only those of Korean descent that speak decent Korean.

 Usually we make-up/create words to fit a gap in our vocabulary to describe or talk about something or someone. It doesn’t always have to make sense immediately or even later. But to make a word to not use.  ???


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