Friday, August 29, 2008

숨어 있는 바퀴벌레, 아이까지 싹 없어집니까?

There is an exterminating company here in Korea called CESCO that runs a commercial on TV that I find unbelievably shocking. In what apears to be a desperate attempt to get more customers, a guy in the commercial makes the following promise:

숨어있는 바퀴벌레, 아이까지 싹 없어집니다.

We completely get rid of not only the hidden cockroaches, but even your kids.


  1. It's very likely that you misunderstood it.

    Though I have not seen the T.V commerical , I'm almost 100% sure that the guy's comment was actually "숨어있는 바퀴와 '알'까지', guessing from context.

    Here, '알'means 'eggs' in english, so that it actually means "바퀴벌레의 알".

  2. Yes, I am sure I misundersood it since it was only a joke.

    I will have to listen to it again to make sure, but it really did sound like they said the following:

    "숨어있는 바퀴벌레 아이까지 싹 없어집니다."

    "We completely get rid of even the hidden baby cockroaches."

    I just added a comma between 바퀴벌레 and 아이 as a joke. However, it makes more sense that they would have said "eggs" (알) rather than "baby" (아이).

    Anyway, I will try to confirm it the next time I see the commercial.

  3. Anonymous,

    I have seen the commercial several more times, and, of course, it does say "알이" rather than "아이."

    Take care.

  4. "알이 까지" deosn't make sense for grammar. It's "알까지" and it does sound like it to native koreans.

    I took a look at your blog and I think you're one of the foreign people on the web who understand korean language best.

    But I also felt you kind of hate korea and I wondered why. Any bad experience around you..?

    Take care.

  5. Oh, please do not judge somebody too harshly just from first impresstion. How can somebody study one language and culture so deeply it he doesn't have love and affection... SO, Mr. Bevers. I deeply moved by your achievement about my country.. I wish your stay in Korea would be more touching and exciting...^^.

  6. Daniel,

    I wrote this post as a kind of joke.

    Of course, I do not hate Korea or Koreans. I enjoy living in Korea and being around Koreans. I like Korean culture.

    I disagree with some Korean views of history, but that does not mean I hate Korea. I am an American, and I also disagree with some American views of history.

    Thank you, Huidok.

  7. This misunderstanding raises an interesting difference in the phonetics of Korean and English [l] sounds.

    There are two basic kinds of [l] sounds in languages of the world. One is called "dark", or more technically "velarized", and is articulated similarly to [w]. This is the [l] sound of English. Dark [l]s are acoustically similar to [w] and [u] and historically can change into one of those sounds. This is why "Cal" (the nickname of UC Berkeley) and "cow" are pronounced similarly or the same by many English speakers. In the history of French, dark [l]s in words like cheval 'horse' have come to interchange with [w] in plural forms like chevaux 'horses'.

    The other type of [l] is "clear", or more technically "palatalized". It is articulatorily and acoustically similar to a [y] or [i] sound. In the history of Italian, many clear [l]s have turned into [i] sounds, as in Italian piazza from earlier 'plaza'.

    The Korean [l] is clear, and thus sounds significantly different from the English dark [l]. English speakers easily mishear it as a [y] or [i] sound. For example, when 갈비 is pronounced by a native Korean speaker, many English speakers hear "kaibi". This is exactly what has happened with 알까지 sounding like 아이까지.


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