The Chosun Ilbo ran a thing yesterday called "The 10 Most Hated English Phrases." I thought it was just going to be a gruff way of referring to the top ten pop songs at any given moment, or would at least cover the ten most hated English phrases in Korea, but it was instead talking about a list developed by Oxford University. You can find their ten phrases in the article.
As for Korea, it's hard to pick just ten. I wasn't really joking when I wrote you could substitute in the top ten pop songs---since many Korean pop songs use ridiculous English---but then it occurred to me that there aren't ten Korean pop songs in circulation. You could also put together a good collection just by flipping through any book or magazine, since they will randomly throw English in there, or will hangeulize English words in order to appear sophisticated. How butchering the pronunciation of English words that most Koreans don't understand appears sophisticated is well beyond me, clearly.
Here is my list, then, keeping in mind that it's hard to narrow it down to ten and that, seriously, any phrase that turns up in a pop song would automatically jump to about number three.
Honorable mention: story, event, comeback, delicious, I'm so hot, hub, how about ____?, propose.
10. Everything not on this list. I don't mean I object to Koreans using English, but I do object to Koreans using English at the expense of comprehension. Ever browse health and beauty products at the grocery store? Ever go clothes shopping? Or watch On Style or StoryOn? Half of what's there is inaccessible to Koreans because it's hangeulized English. What does it say about people that they'd rather use broken English when Korean would perfectly suffice?
9. Do you know ____? Irritating when used to introduce some mundane piece of information, such as asking a three-year Korea veteran if he knows kimchi. Even moreso when slyly trying to divert a conversation back to a piece of Koreana, for example to a famous athlete, singer, designer, car, or to anything else remotely under the umbrella of famous in quotation marks. But in 2008 "Do you know" reached heretofore unheard of heights of hate when it became the tagline for a whole slew of Dokdo advertisements.
8. Frankly speaking - Just because.
7. Foreigner - Yes, I know that's just how 외국인 has come to be translated, and yes I know that I actually am a foreigner in Korea. Doesn't mean I don't cringe when I hear it sixty times a day and read it in the paper in every other article.
6. Oh my God - When I was a kid I would get in trouble for taking the Lord's name in vain. I no longer consider myself a Christian, so my objection isn't on those grounds. I suppose I have two objections. One is that "Oh my God" is said without any emotion whatsoever, rendering it ineffective and meaningless anyway. Second is that Korea doesn't really have the historical connection to Christianity to be credibly taking the Lord's name in vain to begin with. In both cases, then, when people blurt out "Oh my God" they're doing it not because of the weight of the phrase but because it sounds funny in English. Yet another thing divorced of any context when imported into Korea.
5. Unqualified - The media throws this around to cover all manner of situations, to teachers without advanced training, to teachers without proper paperwork, to teachers who engage in illegal tutoring, to teachers who engage in interracial relationships. I've said it before and will probably have to say it again, the government can't rail against "unqualified" foreign teachers when those imports meet the exact qualifications as set out by that government.
4. Okay - It was bad enough when people just used this in place of "yes." But since Lee Hyori's hit song "U Go Gull," with the bridge of "OK OK OK," people wander around now saying it for no fucking reason.
3. I'm fine thank you and you? - An oldie-but-goodie and mainstay of EFL curricula that summarizes in one sentence how futile teaching here can be. After years of English study, and after eighteen months of sporadic lessons with me, 75% of students can only respond with this to my question "How are you?" More frustrating, many students choose to respond this way---yes, that car accident joke is well-known---either to get a rise out of me or because they don't want to invest any more time into giving a thoughtful answer.
2. Unique - Just because something exists in Korea, doesn't mean it's unique to Korea. Just because something has a slight regional variation, doesn't mean it's unique to Korea.
1. Sexy - This word should not be in circulation here, ever, in any situation, because they'll just screw it up. They'll use it to describe some model with bug eyes and plastic tits. Or they'll use it to describe choreography that belongs in a Fatboy Slim video. Or they'll use it to describe eight-year-olds. It must stop.
Anything you'd like to add?