Korean Language Blog

Wait, Is That Korean or English? (Part 1) Posted by on Jun 22, 2020 in Korean Language, Vocabulary

As a bilingual in Korean and English, I often secretly giggle inside my head whenever I hear English words that sound like Korean. Sometimes when this happens, it just confuses me for a second. But often the result absurdly twists the entire meaning of the sentence. (https://slate.com/human-interest/2014/09/7-ways-to-fake-pronounce-any-foreign-language-from-a-linguist.html)

Korean language is the one of the oldest living languages. Korean is a member of the Ural- Altaic languages, which includes Turkish, Mongolian, and Japanese, suggesting early Northern migrations and trade. Korean was also heavily influenced by Chinese, but adopted its own writing system in the 16th century. (https://asiasociety.org/education/korean-language)

Korean is certainly different from English language, but it surprises me when I discover English words that sound just like Korean. This makes me realize that languages are just a tool for humans universally.


Imag eby Pixabay


Today, I am going to share Korean words that sound like English words. They, of course, have different meanings with slight distortion of intonation, but it would be helpful to add more Korean vocabulary in your brain.


  1. 할머님 (hal-mo-nym: grandmother) sounds like the word “Homonym”. The precise pronunciation of 할머님 is with “L” sound, but homonym can sound like 할머님 in softened intonation.


  1. 개미 (gae-mi :ants) sounds like the word “Gamey”. I was surprised once when my mother in law said, “This meat is gamey.”


  1. 허리 (huh-ri: waist) sounds like the English word “Hurry”. When you say, “Hurry up!”, you know that somewhere, someone is giggling inside her head.


  1. 밥 (bop: rice, meal) can sound like “Bob”. Although the exact pronunciation of 밥 in Korean is short.

Image by Pixabay

  1. 징글징글 ( jing-gle-jing-gle: be disgusting or get sick of something) It is an adverb, which is derived from a verb 징글징글하다 (jing-gle-jing-gle-hah-dah) For instance, Koreans say 시험이라면 이제 정말 징글징글하다. (I get sick of even thinking about another test.)  It has a completely different meaning from the English word “Jingle”.



  1. 풀 (pul: glue) sounds like the word “ Pool”. “Let’s take a dip in the glue!”


  1. 것 (gut: a thing) sounds like the word “Gut”



  1. 많이 (mah-nee: lots, much, plenty, largely) When you repeatedly say the word “Money”, it eventually sounds like 많이. I guess people want 많이 money (more money), whether you are a Korean speaker or an English speaker.


  1. 비 (bee: rain) sounds like “Rain”. Imagine hearing someone say, “I got stung by the rain.”


Image by Pixabay


  1. 문 (moon: door) sounds like the English word “Moon”. “Please close the moon?”


  1. 소리 (soh-ri: sound, noise) sounds like “Sorry”, if you soften the word.
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About the Author: Flying Oyster

Hi, 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. H.J.