S1 Ep.5: 우리 가족이에요 (Learn and Practice 우리)

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Vanessa:       5화: 우리 가족이에요.

Chris:       Episode #5: It’s our family

Chris:   안녕하세요? 바네사 씨. 뭐 하고 있어요? Good morning? Vanessa. What are you doing?

Vanessa:   안녕하세요? 크리스 씨. 잘 지냈어요?  Hello? Chris. How are you?  I was just looking at family photos.  Due to COVID, whenever I miss my family, I sometimes take out the picture and remember them.

Chris:   I see; I’m sure you really miss them.

Vanessa:   Yes, Shortly after coming to Canada, the coronavirus spread worldwide, and I couldn’t go back to Korea for almost 2 years.

나중에 코로나가 끝나면 한국에 가서 우리 가족들 보고 싶어요. Once COVID is over, I want to go see our family in Korea.

Chris:   우리 가족이요? Our family? Hold on… Aren’t my family and your family different?

Vanessa:   Oh, ha ha ha. Sorry for the confusion.  In Korean, my / 제 (a formal form of my in Korean) 내 (an informal form of my in Korean) aren’t used as much as 저희 (a formal form of we/our/us) 우리 (an informal form of we our us)

Chris:   So, are you saying that Koreans use “ours” for expression that should be used “my”?

Vanessa:   Yes, that is correct. This is because Koreans believe that a particular object, person, or concept does not belong to just one individual.

Chris:   What does it mean by it doesn’t belong to just one individual… it’s quite confusing?

Vanessa:   For example, country, school, family, home, etc., if you think about it carefully, it is not your own. The nation belongs to all the people, the school is shared by all students and teachers. For family, father or mother does not only belong to you. Father and mother both belong to all of your brothers and sisters.  So in Korean, these things are expressed as group possession. In that case, rather than expressing myself/me, we use the word we/us and say it is ours.

Chris:   Ah… Koreans have different points of view on ownership. It is to emphasize that things belong to everyone. Opposite of the US where individualism is focused.

Vanessa:   Yes. Even with things we don’t share, we often use them as a habit. For example, 우리 남편 our husband or 우리 아내 our wife. This is because the usage of 우리 is expanded due to the habit of saying 우리

Chris:   Okay, then I have a question.  If I speak formally can I just use 저희, instead of 우리?

Vanessa:   Well… not really. In most cases, the expression “We/us/our” 우리 is used, even if we use honorifics. However, when words with the same meaning have separate honorifics and informal forms, for example, we/us/our 저희 (honorifics) and 우리(informal), we have to be aware that when we use honorifics form, it has the nuance of showing respect to others by “lowering oneself”.  For that reason, in most situations, we use 우리 for we/our/us, except when there is a significant age difference between this group of listeners and speakers. So, even if using -요 ending, we express it as my/our country 우리 나라, my/our family 우리 가족, my/our parents 우리 부모님, my/our house 우리 집.

Chris:   I think I kinda understand what your saying, but at the same time, I am confused quite a bit.  Korean honorifics are really complex.

Vanessa:   Yes, it is not easy to understand at once. From now on, try to remember this concept when watching or listening to Kpop or Korean Dramas.  Then, you will find yourself understanding the difference.

Chris: Anyway, In Korean, is it better to express ourselves using 우리 rather than my (내, 제)?

Vanessa:   Yes, you got it!

Chris:   Okay, I will try to recall this concept when I watch Korean drama.  Then now, shall we practice some examples?

Vanessa:   All right! Let’s practice!

Situation #1

Chris:   바네사 씨, 안녕하세요? 옆에 있는 분은 누구예요?   Hi Vanessa, who is the person next to you?

Vanessa:   아, 안녕하세요? 우리 남동생이에요. 서로 인사하세요.   Oh Hello. He is my brother.  Please introduce yourselves.

Chris:   만나서 반갑습니다.   Hello, nice to meet you

Vanessa(MALE):   네, 만나서 반갑습니다.   Yes, it is nice to meet you

Situation #2

우리 나라, 한국은 분단 국가예요. 하지만 저는 항상 우리 나라의 통일을 바라고 있어요.

Our country, Korea, is a divided country. But I always hope for the reunification of our country.

Situation #3

Vanessa:   이 사진 보세요! 우리 남편이에요. 정말 잘생기지 않았어요?   Look at this picture! He’s my husband. Isn’t he really handsome?

Chris:   어우~ 뭐예요~ 바네사 씨, 남편을 정말 많이 사랑하나봐요?   Whoa~ What~ Vanessa, You must truly love your husband.

Vanessa:   네, 우리 남편 정말 좋아요! Yes, he is really sweet!

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