Ppang: A (delicious) linguistic legacy of colonialism

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Ppang (or Bbang) 빵



Sociocultural contexts

Bread in Korea, is it popular, where/when do people eat it, buy it, etc. Do you call croissants etc. ppang? Or only certain products?


Portuguese pão

However, bread first came to Korea before this with Western missionaries in the 1880s. 

It was also made in a Western-style hotel from 1902, where it was called myŏnp’o (면포)–a word still used in China as miàn bāo (麵包/面包).

But, bread became more widely known in Korea from the beginning of the Japanese colonization, when it got its current Korean name

Linguistic elements

Pronunciation: tense consonants, represented by double or “twin” (쌍) consonants. So like in this case, 비읍, which roughly corresponds to the the sound that b makes in English, would be written twice, and pronounced differently

방 vs 빵 

We’ll talk about this in depth in a later episode

Main linguistic element today: Non-Asian loanwords through Japanese

A lot of words we think of as being loanwords from a European language into Korean actually came in through Japanese

Pão didn’t become ppang in one step, though–it appears to have entered the Korean lexicon through Japanese during the colonial period (1910-1945).

Jaymin discusses some history behind this – Portuguese exploration and contact with Japan, then Japanese contact with Korea

Other such words?

  • 아르바이트 (often contracted to 알바) 
  • Burberry (pabari) came into Korean through Japanese as a word for trench coat (Ramsey 2006),

2008 article by Yoonjung Kang at University of Toronto and her coauthors: Study that showed that among English loanwords in Korean, those borrowed through Japanese have different phonological traits than those borrowed directly from English

“In direct English borrowings into Contemporary Korean, English [f] is in general adapted as the aspirated bilabial stop [ph], as in fashion ! [phes*j8n], Ford ! [phodi], coffee ! [kh8phi], golf ! [k*olphi], etc. In English borrowings transmitted through Japanese, on the other hand, [f] appears as [h(w)] in Korean, because English [f] is adapted as Japanese [H], an allophone of /h/

and Japanese /h/ is consistently adapted as Korean [h(w)],”

For example

F -> ph/h(w) (aspirated bilabial stop (p)) vs more of an h sound, that’s consistently adapted as hw from Japanese to Korean

Direct from English: 골프 , 패션, 커피

Through Japanese: 흐라이 

Doublets: 환타지/판타지 


Kang, Y., Kenstowicz, M. & Ito, C. Hybrid loans: a study of English loanwords transmitted to Korean via Japanese. J East Asian Linguist 17, 299–316 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10831-008-9029-5

Theme music: The Boating Trip by LATG Music.

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