Transcending the Boundaries of Speech
Transcending the Boundaries of Speech
  • Ewha Voice
  • 승인 2006.10.04 00:00
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▲ [Photo provided by]Different styles of talking is seen between Koreans and Americans.

By Min-ju

   ?ur country, our house, our mother.?Koreans have the tendency to use the word ?ur?and ?s?more than  ?y?and ?e?commonly used in English. This is probably because of the collectivism derived from Confucian values of Korea and the individualism deeply rooted in the Western society.
   According to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis in linguistics, there is a systematic relationship between the language that a person uses and how that person both understands the world and behaves in it. In other words, the culture of a country is part of the country? language, which is why learning the language is the basis for adapting to and understanding a foreign culture. This also means that one can tell a lot about a person by listening to the way he or she speaks, as some foreign students and professors on Ewha campus discovered the different talking styles between  Korean and English.
   Josephine Gachwe (Computer Science, 1), a Kenyan student part of the Ewha Global Partnership Program feels that the main difference in the style of talking between Koreans and Americans seems to be tonal variation. ?oreans sound like they are passionately explaining something to one another while American style of talking seems calmer.?Another foreign student at Ewha, Xayasouk Doungsathien (Business Administration, 1), who is from Laos, also mentioned tonal variation but she said it was hard to catch some words when Koreans talk to each other no matter how hard she tries, as Koreans do not seem to have a strong intonation to their words in comparison to Americans.
   According to the words of a foreign professor at Ewha, Professor Bruce Barnes (English Program Office) who came from Australia, thought that the Korean style of talking seems to be more intense and precise while Americans tend to have a more laid-back style of talking. Another professor from the English Program Office, Professor Anthony Davis who is from the U.S., noticed that Koreans tend to possess more emotion in their voice. ?n order to analyze the talking styles of native English speakers, Hollywood films or TV shows such as ?riends?or ?einfeld,?two popular TV programs of the 1990s with its many catchphrases, is recommended because these sources are where many Americans usually adopted certain styles of talking,?added Professor Davis. 
   Professor Cho Kyung-ha, who is teaching a class on the structure of Korean language mentioned that it is difficult to standarize the difference between the talking styles of English and Korean as no offical research currently exists regarding the topic. However, there are definite differences between Korean and English in terms of honorific expressions and fortis used by Koreans such as pronouncing ?oju?as ?soju.??oreover, Koreans tend to omit more, not only subjects but also objects and verbs, while speaking when a certain phrase is repeated at the beginning and the end of the sentence,?added Professor Cho.
   Although there exist evident differences between how English and Korean are spoken, Na Young-joo (Liberal Arts, 1) pointed out that there are also similarities between Koreans and native English speakers. Both use terms such as ?ak?in Korean or ?ike?or ?m?in English as vocal fillers without much meaning in the middle of a conversation. On the other hand, Na says there are differences too. ? felt that Americans tend to be friendlier in the way they talk at first encounter while Koreans seem to be rather awkward and shy.?Since the way a language is spoken portrays the culture, ideas, and thoughts of the person speaking it, Ewha students who open up their ears may have an opportunity to get a glimpse of different cultures around the world through the way a certain language is spoken.

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