Do they still use these?

First off, I’m addicted to an ongoing fusion sageuk drama, Chuno (추노). It has got to be, hands down, one of the best Korean dramas I’ve seen—and I’ve watched more than my share of Korean dramas. :D

Anyway, because the setting for Chuno is during the Joseon dynasty, some (or maybe a lot; I’m not exactly sure) of the words and expressions used in the drama are olden and may not exactly be heard in today’s Korean language. A good proof of this are snippets of information being shown when an ancient word is used in the dialogue, like the one below:

Chuno introduced me to some new terms that I don’t think people actually use today, like:

  • 오라버니 – used by women to refer to older men; possibly the equivalent of today’s 오빠 (but according to Wiki, 어라버니 is the honorific equivalent of 오빠, so perhaps people somewhere still use it…?)
  • 나으리 – used by commoners during the Joseon dynasty to refer to people of higher status, but below 대감 (His Excellency)
  • 서방(님) – used to refer to one’s conjugal partner, but I’ve only heard this used by women in Chuno, so this could probably be used only to refer to a husband
  • 성 (? I’m not sure how it’s spelled) – a southwestern version of 형
  • 언니 being used to refer to an older male

I was also made aware of the hierarchical status during the Joseon dynasty through watching Chuno. I recall learning a bit about Korean history through Asian History in my sophomore year in high school, but because it was a very broad subject, we never really got into the finer details of life during that time (not to mention the fact that we were too busy memorizing the Chinese dynasties in order and the significant contributions of each to Asian civilization). Now I know a wee bit more about 양반, 노비, and about Korean history during the Joseon dynasty in general. I’d like to know a bit more but my only resource for now is the internet.

Apart from that, it was fun to hear the dialogues being spoken in varying degrees of politeness. The nobles speak to each other using very formal Korean, whereas the commoners speak to one another in informal form. Hearing the characters speak in the 하오-form makes me happy (eg. Wangson saying ‘나 다시 가오’ or one of Cheon Jiho’s men saying ‘언니, 사랑하오’). ^^

(And no, this is not a pimp post for Chuno, although I bet that’s what it sounds like. ^^)

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One thought on “Do they still use these?

  1. […] culture points! Culture points! I once did a culture/language post while watching 추노 (Slave Hunters), dealing with the Joseon-era speaking style (more deference, […]

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