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Korean Words That Phonetically Sound Like English Posted by on Jul 9, 2020 in Pronunciation, Vocabulary

About 20 years ago, I remember how startling it was when I heard a native speaker pronounce the word “chocolate” because the pronunciation of the word “chocolate” was entirely different than what I had known.

Image by Pixabay


There are no other Korean words for this 외래어 (wae-rae-uh: loanword, foreign word usage). Therefore, I thought that native speakers would speak exactly the same as I would in saying 초코릿. However, the huge difference of the word “chocolate” between English and Korean is in intonation.

In Korean, we have many foreign words that phonetically sound like English. In fact, there is a strong movement to minimize 외래어 in order to prevent impurity in Korean.


Image by Pixabay

I am going to share some examples of 외래어 in which the only difference is the Korean intonation. I included the audio files below. I want you to try to say the words in English after you listen to the files.


1. 초코릿 (cho-co-lit: chocolate)

2. 오렌지 (oh-ran-gee: orange)

3. 카디건 (gah-dee-gun: cardigan)

4. 비닐 (bee-nill: vinyl)

5. 밀크쉐이크 (mil-keu-shae-ee-keu: milk shake)

6. 드라이브 (deu-rai-ee-beu: drive)

7. 쇼핑 (cho-ping: shopping)

8. 폰 (pone: phone)

9. 라이터 (lai-ee-ter: lighter)

10. 가스 (gah-sseu: gas, stove)

11. 도너츠 (doh-nuh-cheu: donuts)

12. 커피 (kuh-pee: coffee)

13. 바베큐 (bah-beh-kyoo: barbeque)

14. 사우나 (sah-wooh-nah: sauna)

15. 마요네즈 (mah-yo-neh-zeu: mayonnaise)

16. 카라멜 (kah-lah-mel: caramel)

17. 쥬스( jeu-seu: juice)

18. 스포츠 (seu-poh-cheu: sports)

19. 헬스 (hell-seu: health)

20. 아파트 (ah-pah-teu: apartment)

21. 피자 (pi-jah: pizza)

22. 택시 (taek-ssi: taxi)


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About the Author: FlyHighOyster

Hi everyone, I was born and raised in Seoul, S. Korea. I have lived in Seattle for a while and I am traveling the world with my husband since 2016. It is my honor to share Korean culture with you all. Don't be shy to share your thoughts and comments! :) Talk to you soon. HJ


  1. Bobbie Beaucock:

    On return of Superman, I ‘ve heard the expression “figh ting” and I thought it meant “let’s go”, but apparently it doesn’t. Do you have any idea what Korean expression it could be?

    • FlyHighOyster:

      @Bobbie Beaucock Hi Bobbie,

      I don’t know at what exact circumstances you heard ‘fighting’ on the show, but I assume that they said ‘fighting’ for raising their fighting (or matching) spirit before starting doing something. Hope it helps.