Julia GrahamJulia Graham
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Pyeong Chang 2018 – North and South unite

PyeongChang Olympics 2018 – North and South unite

Something rather unexpected has happened at these Olympic games already! North and South Korea have joined together to play the games together. Most people have been looking at the political side of this allegiance and how it could maybe bring together the two nations.

The telegraph however has looked at the linguistic side of it all, and this has intrigued me! I guess as an English-speaking country, I know that American English is slightly different, as is Australian English – but we hear these variants daily, so we are all acclimatised to our different versions of the language and have watched them develop over decades, if not centuries.

The Korean language however has been tied off for decades. Little information is passed from North to South and vice versa. So, over the decades, terminology has changed in both nations, without the other nation knowing what the other side is using. This has become apparent with the ice hockey team. Northern athletes joined their southern teammates for the first time on Sunday. Accents were also an issue as they weren’t used to hearing Korean in a different accent. It would be like Liverpool cutting itself off from the world for a decade – then emerging. We’d have no clue what they were saying after just a decade!

Here’s what makes it worse:

North Korea has been cut off from the rest of the world. Where South Korea has embraced the world, and will sometimes use English words for sporting terms, North Korea doesn’t really know much of English at all. North Korea have their own Korean teams for certain terminology and manoeuvres, whereas South Korea have used foreign terms. Better still the ice hockey coach is from Canada! Luckily, she has been given a translator and lists of North and South terminology. This list has also been passed out to the players so they can try to understand each other better.

So, there you have it, even if you speak the same language, a language barrier could arise. Here’s hoping both sides will be able to embrace the other’s accent and phrases and show that even with this barrier, they can successfully work together as a team!

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About Julia Graham

I have a BA in French from Swansea University and spent a year in Toulouse studying at the Université de Toulouse. It’s no surprise that I also love languages! I also speak Welsh as my second language ? I am considered the office organiser as I love to keep things just so and I am also considered to be very much a perfectionist – I fit right in with my fellow language geeks. Every day is fascinating and I love working as part of our team, we are well known for being friendly and of course, we know what we are talking about.

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