They say that our eyes are the windows to our soul. And in the same sense, language is like the window to the soul of a culture. But every language is unique, and sometimes, translating ideas, feeling, and situations into another language causes its essence to get lost in translation.
With that being said, the team here at Day Translations decided to share a collection of the most beautiful Korean words that have no English equivalents. These words and expressions are beautiful, yes, but they provide a deeper look into Korean culture!
If you want to express a mutual feeling of sorrow, misery, and victimization in Korean, “Han” is the correct term to use. Korean culture also carries with it a notion of injustice, which reiterates the essence of the word “Han.”
“Han” might define misery in Korean, but “Jeong” – which means social ties – is what ties the people of Korea together and empowers them. The word can be translated to ‘harmony’ or ‘unity.’ Still, even Koreans find the word hard to define since it relates to the psychological and emotional ties that bind Korean society.
“Hyo” is related to Korean concepts of devotion and focused on the intense sense of responsibility children must have towards their parents. It’s all about being the most devoted son or daughter a parent could ask for.
In English, we’d refer to “Noon-chi” as empathy, but the Korean word goes a little deeper and defines the art of being in touch with the feelings, ideas, and emotions of others so you can engage and respond in the best possible way. “Noon-chi” also enables someone to read body language and tone of voice in others so you can understand their true feelings, even if they’re not saying a word.
“Sseom-ta-da” sums up that awkward stage of a relationship where you just started dating but haven’t formally agreed on being in a relationship yet. It is believed that this saying is derived from the English word ‘something’ and means that something is going on, and it will continue until it becomes something more serious.
Nunchiga ppareuda (눈치가 빠르다)
You know the feeling that you can sense something is going on, but you can’t put your finger on it? That’s “nunchiga ppareuda,” which means you’re observant and able to comprehend that something is going on without being informed about the situation.
“Hyodo” means to dedicate yourself to your parents by caring for them until they die. Any act that defines your love or gratitude towards your parents in Korean is called “hyodo.”
“Dapdapada” is the Korean word for a feeling of utter frustration, but it’s more than just frustration. It’s like training someone for a new role, seeing them pass the training, and then observing how they fail at the very task they had been prepared for.
Bonus: Fun Facts About the Korean Language
We don’t want to leave you hanging, so as a last little spoil, we’re sharing five of the most surprising facts about the Korean language with you today! We’re betting you didn’t know that:
#1 – Korean is a language isolate – Korean is a language with no significant link to any other existing language on earth! No wonder some words and phrases simply can’t be translated.
#2 – Chinese heavily influence the Korean vocabulary – But its grammar is vastly different from Chinese. However, historical connections between China and Korea made its mark, and today, up to 60% of the Korean vocabulary is of Chinese origin.
#3 – They have two counting systems – Small and large numbers use different vocabulary in Korean. The native Korean vocabulary is used for your age, counting objects, and expressing the hour when telling time. But the other system of Chinese origin is for describing the minutes when telling time and measurements, including money, dates, and distance.
#4 – North and South Korea don’t speak the same language – North and South Korea have their own distinct vocabularies, pronunciations, and grammatical rules.
#5 – Korean didn’t have an alphabet until the 15th century – The language existed for over a thousand years before its alphabet was formalized in the 15th century.
Keen To Learn More?
Visit Day Translation’s blog to learn more fascinating language facts from around the world. You don’t need to be a polyglot to explore the wonders of language because we’re always keen on sharing our golden nuggets of wisdom with you!