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[Opinion] Dialects

Posted December. 30, 2002 22:27,   


“Nae A-reul Na-do,” an expression in south province of Gyeongsang-do meaning `be the mother of my baby,` was named one of this year`s fads by a number of media and press organizations. If you just hear what you hear, however, you are rather a slow person when it comes to catching up with the latest trend and wit. The expression is a roundabout way of saying `I love you.` Put it in the way people in Cholla-do speak, it is `Atta, Geoshigi-heoyo~.`

▷A KBS comedy program called `Gag Concert` won the new face of the year award in the year-end KBS entertainment festival. The program catches ears of the audience by giving a hilarious lecture about dialects. When you want to have a kiss with your girlfriend, it teaches, you say `Atta, Hukkuen Dalla-oreu-ne-yo (meaning I feel hot)` in Cholla-do, and `Jui Jap-a-muet-na? (meaning why your lips are so red?)` in Gyeongsang-do. The former is a roundabout way of saying you think her `lips look so sexy.,` while the latter is very straightforward and more about her than you.

▷Popularity of dialects, which began with last year`s hit movie `Friends,` was so phenomenal that it even worked to unite people from different regions across the country. SBS` hit drama `A Country Girl`s Success Story` created new catchy expressions such as `Sarang Hae-yu,` an expression in Chungcheong province meaning I love you, or `Ajeossi Cham Napeun Saram-iguman-yu` meaning `you are a bad person.` Rock singer Gang San-e introduced a Hamgyeong-do style rap `dried fish` and a theatrical play using only Jeju-do dialects is on stage now. They are hit cultural products that deliver warmth and friendliness, which cannot be found in `Seoul dialect.`

▷The power of dialect proved to be very effective during the election campaigns early this month. A woman in her fifties who sells fish at Pusan`s famous fish market made a TV appearance to appeal for Roh successfully. Roh himself touched the heart of the south region by saying `Ujjal-rap-ni-ggeo?` meaning `what will you do?` while speaking before crowds. Professor Lee Hyeon-bok at Seoul National University points out that regionalism that peaks in every election season might have something to do with dialects. Dialects themselves cannot be blamed for this country`s regionalism, however. Many people say that they feel friendliness and warmth when hearing dialects unique to certain regions. As our language is something to hold dear, dialects of all different kinds have cultural values for their uniqueness and history. Their effect just depends on who use them and how they are used.

Kim Sun-deok, Editorial Writer, yuri@donga.com