Korean & Chinese Language Parallels

Recently, I have a rekindled interest in Korean dramas – my very own mini Korean Wave – triggered by “Love Rain”. Feverishly-addicted, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve doggedly lapped up the 20-episode poignant love story one episode each night before going to bed. The last time having ended merely a few nights ago. It became a nightly routine I looked forward to. To be fair, I did also watch “Spy Myeong-wol” and “Full House“.

Though rather dense when it comes to picking up languages, I couldn’t help but begin to comprehend some of the commonly used Korean words and phrases through my nightly rendezvous with Korean dramas. In fact, some words sounded so familiar (in a different way from having heard them repetitiously). Then it hit me…these words sounded so similar to Chinese (or its other dialects)! This got me excited since I’ve always been fascinated by how our world’s multitude of languages originated and evolved; how many of these languages are somewhat intertwined.

Listed here are the ones which have occurred to me. There might be many more but given my limited grasp of Mandarin and even worse, the other Chinese dialects, these are all I have for the moment. I’ll be happy to hear from you to add to this list.

Korean Chinese (Dialect) English Remarks
chincha chin chiah (Hokkien) really, seriously, truly, real, very
daedab huí dá (Mandarin) answer me
gamdong gǎn dòng (Mandarin) touched
gamsa kam siah (Hokkien) thanks
hang-bok hang fuk (Cantonese)(pronounced “hung fook”) happy, happiness, blissful
huhoe hòu huǐ (Mandarin) regret
keopi kā fēi (Mandarin)Sounds similar to “kopi” in other Chinese dialects too. coffee I feel the general term for coffee is pretty universal. Even in Malay it’s “kopi”.
namja naam jai (Cantonese) boy / man
ohae wù huì (Mandarin) misunderstand
saek yán sè (Mandarin) color
saeng-il shēng rì (Mandarin) birthday
usan yǔ sǎn (Mandarin) umbrella

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