Friday, June 18, 2010

Facts Friday {Some Korean Phrases}

While in Korea, it was Seon-Mi, Seon-Mi, Seon-Mi. I didn't start calling Zoey,well, Zoey, till several weeks after coming home. To be exact, it was Seon-mi-'ah' (pronounced Sun Mee Ahh), which I'm told is the way children are referred to in Korea as a sign of affection, by adding the 'ah' at the end. Because that was already her name, I just felt funny calling her Zoey while there! In fact, once home, my husband and son referred to her as Zoey and I wasn't convinced that was her name! So now, it has become habit. I probably call her Seon-Mi more than I call her Zoey. She still, of course, responds to it because I never really stopped calling her that. My dad still does it often too. We're lucky if the rest of the family can even pronounce it correctly! It is now legally her middle name, but we switch between both often!

I was picking up something the other day at our favorite Korean restaurant and as Zoey started to climb the rock wall around the fish pond, I looked over and said very sternly, "Seon-Mi ah!" The hostess asked in her broken English, "Oh, her name is Seon-Mi? Beautiful!" Then pointed to Braedan and asked, "And what his is name?" To which I replied, "Um....Braedan." "Oh." she said and politely bowed and walked away. I guess it was a little confusing to her as why one of my kids would have a very Korean name and the other not so much!

At our first meeting, Zoey's foster mother was sure to tell me that she likes being called "yeh-peu-dah" meaning beautiful or pretty. We used that phrase quite a bit in the beginning to assure her once home and she really responded well to it, as her foster mother called her that quite often. And let's face, she is pretty darn pretty. :)

My most memorable moment with that word comes from one of the many sleepless nights we had in the beginning after her homecoming when she grieved heavily at night. Amidst her screams, I would whisper in her ear, "Seon-Mi ah yehpeudah" over and over again till it finally calmed her down. Sometimes she would look at my face when I said it as she recognized the phrase, but not me. Over time, it became something she associated with me and would smile when I said it. We haven't used that one in a while, but it is definitely one that we'll remember.

There is no shortage of the word 'no' in our house. But the usual phrase here is "Seon-Mi ah, annio" or 'no'! Pronounced 'ahh-nee-yo'. I didn't realize I said this a lot until one day I was listening to the kids playing and watched as Zoey took a lego from Braedan to which he demanded, "Seon-Mi ah! Annio!" in his nearly perfect Korean! I did allow myself to giggle a bit before straightening out the situation. :)

As we enter and leave the Korean market, the workers who recognize us (we're there A LOT!) remember we don't speak Korean and will usually keep it simple. "Ahn-young-ha-seh-yo!" they will shout, or 'hello' (the formal way of saying it) as we walk in and we're sure to always thank them by saying "kamsamnida", or 'na-da' as Zoey will say on our way out.

I purchased a couple of CD's of Korean children's songs while there and from the beginning, we listened to them quite often. Mostly in the car to try and calm down the screaming rear facing baby who did. not. like. the. car. at. all. for. months! It became a habit and to this day, when she gets fussy in the car, you just blare that CD and she is silent as a mouse. It doesn't work anywhere else. Trust me, I've tried. :)

I would love nothing more than to wake up one morning and start speaking fluent Korean! But since that's not going to happen, in the meantime, we'll just keep on keepin' on with our few little phrases around here!

Here are some other fun words and phrases to learn and use:
Goodbye = annyeonghi gaseyo
Cooked Rice (or meal) = pap
Water = mool
I love you (informal) = saranghaeyo
Mom = um-ma
Dad = ah-pah
Older Sister/Close Older Female (for a girl) = Unni
Older Sister/Close Older Female (for a boy) = Noona
Older Brother/Close Older Male (for a girl) = Oppa
Older Brother/Close Older Male (for a boy) = Hyung
Grandma/old lady - hal-muh-nee
Grandpa/old man - ha-da-buh-jee / ha-ra-buh-jee
Aunt/Close, Much Older Female (mom's side) - ee-mo
Uncle/Close, Much Older Male (both sides) - sam-chon
Aunt (dad's side) - gho-mo
Uncle (dad's side) - gho-mo-boo
Yes = yeh/neh
Puppy = gang-ah-jee
Tiger = ho-rang-ee
Cow = soh
Cat = goh-yang-ee
Rabbit = toh-gi
Elephant = ko-gee-ree
Monkey = won-soong-ee
Dog = gae

And yes, there will be a quiz later. :)

Edit!!! 6/19 I cannot believe I forgot THE most used Korean phrase in our home! "Hajima!", which means 'don't do it, or don't do that'! We use that one all. the. time! Zoey knows exactly what it means and hears it very often!


  1. So awesome that you are keeping as much of the language going as you can. Thanks for all the words in if I could just pronouce them all right.

  2. Kamsahamnida Yeo dong saeng :)

  3. I love this post! Kamsamnida!!!

  4. great post! the phrase i used the most when was out with my son was "mahn jee jee mah!", don't touch. i wonder what it will be with bethany... :)