English loan words in Korean

Some walks of life are more open to loan words than others: either that walk of life did not exist natively, or the ‘lending’ culture and language carried/carry more prestige. In English, many religious  words are Hebrew, Greek or Latin (maybe via French), many musical words are Italian and many culinary words are French.

A few days ago, while waiting at a traffic light, I saw this building:
(apologies for the photo; I took it quickly through a bus window).

The white box in the top centre reads:

nail art
skin care
hair art

100% English loan words!

There are perfectly good Korean words for nail, art, skin, care and hair. Makeup and style have existed at least since ancient Egyptian times and (judging from period dramas) flourished in Korea in the Joseon period (1392-1910), at least among royalty and the aristocracy.

In Korea, English connotes internationalisation and modernity. Walks of life which use English loan words extensively are beauty, technology and popular culture. Where Korean and English loan words exist side-by-side, the former represents the more traditional concept and the latter the more modern.


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