S1 Ep7: To say pardon me in Korean, Don’t say What? Instead say yes(네)?

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Vanessa: Episode 7: 네?

Chris: Episode #7: Pardon me?

Chris:   안녕하세요? 바네사 씨. 밥 먹었어요? Good morning? Vanessa. How are you?

Vanessa: 네. 먹었어요. 크리스 씨 이거 한번 들어봐요. Yeah, I ate already. Chris, anyway Listen to this.  간장공장 공장장은 강 공장장이고, 된장공장 공장장은 장 공장장이다. 어때요?

Chris:   네? I didn’t understand it at all. What were you saying?

Vanessa: This is tongue twister practice. Hahaha, how was it? Do I sound like a rapper? Hahaha, It meant that the owner of the soy sauce factory is Mr. Kang, and the owner of the soybean paste factory is Mr. Jang.

Chris:   Oh, okay….guess that’s what it meant.  There are lots of 이응 받침, which makes it very difficult.

Vanessa:   Yes, that’s why it is a sentence to practice pronunciation.

Chris:   Okay, I will give it a try! Give me some time to practice and check how I do it next time.

Vanessa:   Sure, I will.

Chris:   Anyway, what’s today’s lesson?

Vanessa:   Well, you just said it a few moments ago.

Chris:   One of the things I said? uh… I don’t remember…

Vanessa:   That is… 네? is the expression we are going to learn

Chris:   I know this expression well! It is used when someone didn’t catch or hear the other person’s statement, so it’s an expression to ask to say it again.

Vanessa:   Yeah! Very well! Chris, you’ve improved a lot! 네’s superficial meaning is yes, but it is also used as a question, 네? to request to repeat what they have said.

Chris:   Then wait! In Korean, respectful or honorific words are important. So, is there any other respectful expression for 네? I think the expression 네? sounds little light like 반말, an informal word.

Vanessa:   Well… Not necessarily. It is often more appropriate to say 네? Whenever you are asking the person to repeat.

Chris:   Oh really?

Vanessa:   Yes, if you use Google Translator and type “pardon me,” it will be translated to the expression “뭐라고요?”  Most Korean learners may think that since the ending has “-요,” it is an honorific expression, however in reality, rather lighter than “네?”, or sometimes it feels aggressive. So it’s much better to use 네?.

Chris:   Oh, okay.

Vanessa:   Yes. In fact, “뭐라고요” is often used as sarcasm, and it feels quite light and aggressive in whatever tone you use. Especially in many cases, “뭐라고요?” gives a message to other “Do you think that makes sense now?” like ironic or sarcasm. So when you really can’t hear or understand what the other person is saying, just saying “네?” is a clearer and better way to say.

Chris:   Ah, I see.  Then would it be okay if I use “네?” to older people or to my boss?

Vanessa:   Yes. It doesn’t matter much. As long as you don’t use the wrong accent. 네에? This sounds a bit ironic, doesn’t it? So when using 네? with correct articulation, it is okay to use it for older people or people with high social standing.  But if you still want a more polite expression, rather than “뭐라고요?”, use “뭐라고 하셨어요? What did you say? Or “죄송합니다. 못들었어요. I’m sorry I couldn’t hear you” when you want to say you didn’t hear them and it would be best to say 무슨 말씀인지 이해가 잘 안됩니다 / 무슨 말씀인지 잘 이해하지 못했습니다 when you did not understand what the other person said.

Chris:   Ah, Okay. I always thought that Korean was difficult because of honorific words, but today’s expression is rather simple and easy.  However, could repeat 네? With both correct and incorrect accents. It will help me speak properly….

Vanessa:   okay. The correct way is 네?, short and dense sound with question.  While incorrect way is 네에? Long and dragging sound with question.  Try to remember the difference between 네? and 네에?

Chris:   So comparing to  English is it similar to saying Sorry (normal way) vs Sorrrrrrrry(sarcasm)?  Is that what you are trying to say?

Vanessa: Yes, that’s right.

Chris: Got it.  Thank you for your lesson today. Vanessa. So, shall we practice some examples?

Situation #1

Vanessa: 저 지금 강아지가 갑자기 너무 아파서 병원에 빨리 다녀 올게요!

Chris: 네? 뭐라고 하셨어요?

Vanessa: 강아지 아파서 병원에 간다고요!

Chris: 아~ 네 알겠어요!

Situation #2

Chris: 바네사 사원. 보고서를 이렇게 쓰면 어떻게 해요?

Vanessa: 네? 무슨 말씀이신지 이해가 안 됩니다. 지난 번에 말씀하신대로 썼는데…

Chris: 새로운 프로젝트에 대한 부분이 빠졌잖아요.

Vanessa: 아! 그렇군요. 네. 죄송합니다. 다시 쓰겠습니다.

Situation #3

Chris: 누가 이 모니터 깼어요? 바네사 씨가 깼어요?

Vanessa: 뭐라고요? 저 아니에요! 왜 크리스 씨는 항상 제가 했다고 생각해요?

Chris: 지난 번에도 바네사 씨가 깼잖아요.

Vanessa: 어머! 제가 언제 그랬어요?

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