S1 Ep11: Native speakers say I know how to do Korean, instead of I speak Korean.

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Vanessa: 11화: 저 한국어를 할 줄 알아요.

Chris:  Episode #11: I know how to do Korean

Chris: Wow! Today’s topic is language!

Vanessa: Yeah! Yes. Chris, What language do you speak?

Chris: Well… My first language is English; I speak a bit of Korean and Spanish. What about Vanessa?

Vanessa: My native language is Korean, and I speak English, Spanish, and a bit of French.

Chris: Wow, we are all multilingual. Let’s study harder to have be more fluent in foreign languages.

Vanessa: Excellent! So, in that sense, Chris, why don’t you try the expression “I speak Korean” in Korean for practice?

Chris: Well… Because the verb to speak is 말하다in Korean, and in the present tense it’s 말해요, so “저는 한국어를 말해요.” how does it sound ? Is that right?

Vanessa: Ding! Wrong! Hahaha, Actually, I already expected you to say the wrong answer.

Chris: what?! Vanessa! Did you set a trap for me?

Vanessa: Hahaha, I didn’t do that on purpose; it happened because I was trying to convey a good expression to our listeners.

Chris: Vanessa, Sometimes I think you are doing this on purpose. I’m watching closely from now on. I have my eyes on you! Anyways, what is the natural way to say this expression in Korean?

Vanessa: Oh hahaha, I’m sorry, Chris. Okay. So let’s take a look at how native Koreans speak this expression most naturally. First of all, if saying my mother tongue is English, then in Korean 제 모국어는 영어에요. Also, you can say 저는 영어를 해요, it means I do English, or 우리 나라 사람들은 영어를 해요 means People in my country do English.

Chris: 영어를 해요? Do English? How can you do a language?

Vanessa:  Hahaha, in Korean, language tends to be treated like any ability. That’s why I say “do” “하다.”

Chris:  Ah… I See. So, what should I say if it’s not my mother tongue?

Vanessa:  In that case, knowing foreign languages in addition to the mother tongue / is viewed as a “special ability,” so emphasize the “ability” aspect more and express it as 할 줄 알아요 I know how to do. ” So you can say, “I can speak Korean. 저는 한국어를 할 줄 알아요.”

Chris:  Oh, I see. But actually, as the world has become globalized, the number of people who can speak foreign languages are increasing.  So, if the person speaks multiple languages like you, which expression is best for short and simple?

Vanessa:  Well… In that case, I think it would be better to use the verb “하다 / 해요” which is most commonly used. So, it’s normal to say 저는 한국어, 영어, 스페인어, 그리고 프랑스어를 해요 “I speak Korean, English, Spanish, and French.”

Chris:  What do you call each language? Each country has a different language, meaning there is a name for each language like English and French.

Vanessa: Yes. In most cases, you can add a country name or a tribe or region name + 어, which means language. For example, 한국어, 스페인어, 힌디어, 타갈로그어,아랍어 and etc.  However, there is an exception to this, and that is English. According to this rule, English should be 영국어British language as it follows the origin of the language, but the 국 which means country is omitted and used in the form of 영어, English.  Sometimes, the term “말, meaning talk” is added instead of “어” to express it, where Korean is 한국말 but the term “어” is used more frequently than the term “말.”

However, be careful because English is never used as an expression of “영말, English is always 영어.”

Chris:  Well… It is strange that English is the only exception.

Vanessa: right? I think it is because it is a language that is used so often in our daily life.

Chris:  I See. Okay. Thank you for the useful expression today! So let’s practice what we learned today with example sentences.

Vanessa: Yes, I love it!


Chris: 바네사는 무슨 언어를 할 줄 알아요? Vanessa, What language can you speak?

Vanessa:저는 한국어, 영어, 스페인어 그리고 기본적인 프랑스어를 해요. I can speak Korean, English, Spanish, and basic French.


Vanessa:크리스는 한국어를 할 줄 알아요?  Chris, can you speak Korean?

Chris: 네, 저는 영어가 모국어이고[모구거이고], 한국어, 스페인어를 할 줄 알아요. Yes, my mother tongue is English and I can speak Korean and Spanish.

Vanessa:우와! 그렇게 많은 언어를 하다니, 크리스 정말 대단해요!  Wow, Speaking so many languages! That’s amazing Chris!

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