Published: April 24, 2023

Authors: Leah Shin and Paul Ro
Advisor: Prof. Kira Hall, TA Emma Bornheimer
Class: LING 1000: Language in US Society 
Semester: Fall 2022
LURA 2023


Being a Korean American in a place where you’re considered an outcast is something that can take a big toll on your life. The act of having to speak another language at home with family and then using a different identity with friends can take a lot more effort than one can think. This effort can easily be turned into a community of people who take on the same challenges on a daily basis. Konglish is a form of mixed languages between Korean and English and is a blend of words itself. The use of Konglish allows people in a place where they can sometimes feel like they do not belong to find each other and establish a place to come together, a place of comfort and communication. This was the subject of our project for Ling 1000: Language in US Society.

Growing up in a country where your parents don’t speak the same language can be hard for you, and taking on the responsibility of translating through Konglish and communicating through Konglish can oftentimes be stressful. Yet, the struggle usually comes with a bright side, the ability to find people that have the same language and a community of fellow Konglish users. 

Konglish actually has a wide usage and a lot of people seem to gain similar words intuitively throughout their life, especially growing up around other Korean-Americans. The value of relationships among the common speakers of not only Korean but Konglish come together and become united rather than feeling drowned by the mass use of another language in their environment. Other benefits of being able to communicate through Konglish is the ability to have a relationship with your parents. Within first generation families, we often see a disconnect between children who don’t speak the same native language as their parents. The middle ground of being able to speak with the mixed variation allows better communication between families. Complications would occur when there is no bridge to fill the gap of not just generations, but of language as well. 

Diversity is such a large portion of the United States that now we have to acknowledge the wide variations of language. We often see the usage of Konglish in people who are well versed in both languages, depicting the intelligence and social awareness of an individual. The cognitive ability to code switch is a skill that one inherits from being bilingual. That skill is something that we, Korean-Americans, call Konglish.


Image Credit


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