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Korean language speakers should take pride in Konglish – it’s another wonderful example of linguistic diversity

14 June 2019 (The Conversation)

Konglish is the term used to describe the variety of English unique to Korea. It is just one of many varieties of the English language that exists far beyond the borders of so-called “inner circle” Englishes – those spoken in countries such as Britain and the US, for example. As such, Konglish is sometimes met with hostility – even by Koreans themselves – and some regard it as synonymous with errors and failed attempts to learn “proper” English. Examples of additional Englishes beyond the inner circle can be found in India, Ghana and Singapore.

Largely on the basis that Konglish does not match up with the grammar and vocabulary that characterises the standard variety of inner circle English, it is hugely frowned upon by some. But why should it be?

Difference does not mean errors, as once a variety of language has taken hold within a society, then it has – for all intents and purposes – become legitimate. Even within the inner circle of British English, some Britons still roll their eyes at so-called Americanisms, such as “have you been menued yet?” (for the uninitiated, to be given your menu).

Call it what you like, but it’s just a different way of using the same language. But if we assert that all varieties of a language must conform to a singular model, then it is easy to indeed label those that don’t as somehow incorrect. This may be arguable from a societal point of view – but never from a linguistic one.

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