Episode from the podcastTalk To Me In Korean

How 반말 Works – Casual/Informal Language in Korean

Released Wednesday, 21st January 2015
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As you may already be familiar with it, there are mainly two politeness levels in Korean: 반말 [ban-mal] and 존댓말 [jon-daet-mal]. There are various types and levels within 반말 and 존댓말, but very broadly, 반말 refers to casual and informal language, whereas 존댓말 refers to formal and polite language. At first, when you are strangers, you start off with 존댓말, but depending on how well you know the other person and how old you are in comparison with the other person, you might start using 반말. But due to exposure to many K-pop songs, Korean dramas and movies, where you can see a lot of 반말 sentences without much contextual clues, We find that many Korean learners seem to overuse 반말.
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