How NOT To Say “This place is busy.” in Korean

When people say something unnaturally in Korea, often times, that’s because people try to translate what they would say in their languages directly to Korean.

For the same reason when many people translate, for example, “This place is busy,” or “This restaurant is busy.” from English to Korean, it results in a very unnatural Korean sentence. ”

In this video, Kyung-hwa and Hyojin tell you how NOT to say “This place is busy!” in Korean and, of course, explain how to say it properly as well.

About this series : 

When learning a language, we all have experienced that moment when you said something with confidence because you’ve learned the expression or sentence from a book or dictionary, but your friends say it’s not how you say it. Now, don’t worry. In this video series “How NOT To Say…,” we tell you how to say the expressions or phrases you have learned, in the more natural way.

How NOT To Say “This place is busy.” in Korean
  • Jake

    Can 복잡하다 be used to describe people as well?

    ex. 복잡한 사람

  • Insan

    No, I don’t think so
    In this case you have to say 바쁜 사람.

    복잡한 사람 is also make sense to say in Korean but it is literally means He/She is a complicated person in the way they think or something in personality and not busy because has a lot of things to do.

    Let’s see what our teachers will correct us about this! thank you

  • Sierra

    우와~ 이 레슨을 만들어 주셔서 감사합니다, 선생님들~~~ This is such a useful series because I do this kind of thing all the time xD One time, my boyfriend, his sister, and myself were out to lunch and I was trying to speak as much Korean as I could because his sister’s English was very limited at the time. My boyfriend commented that it was funny that I was speaking broken Korean and his sister was speaking broken English, so I said “우리는 해보고 있어,” so as to say to him, “we’re trying (so don’t laugh at us! xD).” He told me it was really awkward how I said it so literally, and that’s not the only time I’ve ever done that, I’m sure xD I’m really thankful that you guys put out videos like this so that we can hopefully reduce our amount of “direct translation” mistakes xD Jesus bless you guys~~ have a great day~~! ^^

  • Kendall

    In my experience, East Asian languages say things much more straightforwardly than most English-speakers would think to. Another way of saying that is that English-speakers are more comfortable using figurative language unconsciously. Of course we understand that a place can’t be busy in the same way that a college student or CEO is busy. It’s just that we’re willing to make the analogy:

    “This coffee shop is busy. It’s full of people, much the same way my hands are full of grocery bags, and my desk is full of papers, and my calendar is full of appointments. If this coffee shop could feel emotions, it would feel the way I feel when I have a lot to do. Kinda flustered, but successful.”

    By contrast with that, “여기는 사람이 많아요” feels like the barest, most factual of reports. To people accustomed to personifying coffee shops, it’s non-conversation, self-evident, not worth saying. It’s artless. What we have to try to remember is that the facile clause—사람이 많다—can be invested with connotation in subtle ways we aren’t used to: “사람이 많네요,” “사람이 많군나,” and so on.

    Where this puts us is that Koreans (and Japanese) can see English-speakers as oddballs who don’t quite grasp how the world works, while English-speakers can see Koreans (and Japanese) as inflexible and closed-minded in their speech. (Naturally, there are also many places where Korean is more figurative than English. This can cause just as much confusion.)

    Awareness of these tendencies is the only way we can compensate for them and make sure not to ruffle each other’s feathers. When we hear a non-native speaker say something weird in our language, let’s try to see what about his linguistic background would cause him to say it that way. That doesn’t mean we should allow him to keep saying it that way in our language, but it does mean we should do our best to get inside his head and think like a speaker of his language.