Polite Verbs – Korean Polite Language #13

We learned special words that you should use when you want to speak politely. In this episode, I'll talk about special nouns.

Honoring Nouns

밥 -> 진지

진지 here has nothing to do with being serious.

진지는 드셨어요?
Did you have a meal?

One thing to note is that 진지 is used a lot for old people. When you are talking politely to someone around your age, it is usually "식사는 하셨어요?"

이름 -> 성함

성함이 어떻게 되세요?
성함 좀 여쭈어 봐도 될까요?
What is your name?

One thing you should be cautious here is that you shouldn't use "성함이 무엇인가요?" It sounds a bit odd. You're honoring by using "성함" but you're being casual with "무엇인가요?"

You should make both nouns and verbs polite to make the sentence natural.

나이 -> 연세

연세가 어떻게 되세요?
연세 좀 여쭈어 보아도 될까요?
How old are you?

Some of you think that it is rude to ask age. But it is really normal in Korean.

이 -> 치아

우리 할머니는 치아가 안 좋으셔서 고기는 많이 못 드셔.
My grandma has bad teeth. So, she cannot eat meat much.

이빨 is used a lot in daily conversation. But 이빨 is originally used for animals. 이 was for people. But many people use 이빨 for their teeth.

One more thing. 치아 is also used in some product descriptions like 치아 건강(the health of your teeth).

집 -> 댁

아버님 댁에 보일러 한 대 놔 드려야겠어요.
We should install a boiler in your father's house.

I got this phrase from an ad. 아버님 댁 usually means "spouse's father's house".

아내 -> 부인

부인께서는 어떤 일을 하십니까?
What is the job of your wife?

생일 -> 생신

다음 주에 어머님 생신이 있어서 시골에 갔다 와야겠네.
There is your mother's birthday next week. So, we should visit her house in the country.

딸 -> 따님, 아들 -> 아드님

따님이 예쁘시네요.
Your daughter is pretty.

아드님이 잘 생기셨습니다.
Your son is handsome.

You can use these phrases to praise their kids. When you have to be extremely polite, you can use words like 영애 for 딸 and 영식 for 아들. As I said these two words are for extreme cases, you are rarely used. Even some native Koreans don't know these words.

Lowering Words

These words are honoring words. Sometimes, you can honor others by lowering yourself.

나 -> 저, 우리 -> 저희

저는 학생입니다.
I'm a student.

저희에게 맡겨 주세요.
Let us do the job.

말 -> 말씀

말씀 is a really odd word. It is sometimes used to lower your own words while it is also used to honor other's words.

부모님께 드릴 말씀이 있습니다.
Mom and dad, I have something to talk to you.

그건 제가 말씀 드릴게요.
I'll tell you about that.

Old Korean

In old Korean, there were some lowering words like 소인(I), 소자(I, meaning your son), 소녀(I, meaning your daughter), 과인(when King calling himself. The original meaning of this word is a sinful man. It has this meaning because the kings thought he is a criminal because he couldn't make all of his people happy.) You can only hear them in some history dramas.

This is the end of the polite word series. I'll be back with another topic next week.