Sir and Ma'am

Discussion in 'Korean Culture and History' started by Rough Rider, Aug 29, 2016.

  1. Rough Rider

    Rough Rider Green Belt

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    How do you say sir and ma'am in Korean? I recently learned that yes is "ney" and no is "anio", but what about "yes, sir" or "no, ma'am"? Or is that not a part of the Korean culture?
     
  2. paitingman

    paitingman Green Belt

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    You will normally refer to someone by their title. And when addressing them, using their title followed by the honorific ending -nim. Kwangjang[nim]. or teacher Sunsaeng[nim]. Master - Sabbeom[nim].

    Though you don't have to keep calling them that. You will use an honorific ending to you sentences when speaking with respect.
    such as -yo. or -ibnida.
    These do not translate directly to sir or ma'am, but they pretty much take the place of them.
     
  3. paitingman

    paitingman Green Belt

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    Though to answer your "yes, sir" "no, sir" thing.
    Ney and Anee-yo are pretty much the equivalent and respectful enough. I suppose if you were being very formal
    Algey-sibnida would be a yes, sir. and An-ibnida for no. But again those are very formal.
     
  4. Rough Rider

    Rough Rider Green Belt

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    So, it is a cultural difference then. Because in my dojang, while speaking English, simply answering "yes" on "no" without the "sir" will bring a swift reprimand.
     
  5. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    That's harsh. There's good manners and there's controlling, that sounds like the latter.
     
  6. Gnarlie

    Gnarlie Master of Arts

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    Yeah, it doesn't mean anything if you have to say it.

    I prefer people who demonstrate respect through their behaviour and actions rather than forcing it.

    Those who have to demand respect don't generally deserve it in my experience.
     
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  7. Rough Rider

    Rough Rider Green Belt

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    I also wonder if there would be a different translation for "yes, sir" based on whether it is a response to a question or a command. For example, if my instructor asks if I had a nice weekend, I would reply "yes, sir." Then, when it was time for class to start he would say "everybody line up!" and all of the students reply "yes, sir!" In English, they are the same words, but in two different contexts. Would the different contexts affect the Korean translation?

    P.S. Those are 2 typical examples of the daily use of "sir" at my dojang. I don't find it harsh at all, but maybe it's because I spent 24 years in the military. Here's a big difference, though: We don't just say it to our seniors. We call our juniors and our peers "sir" or "ma'am" as well out of mutual respect. Just tonight as I walked in, I encountered a yellow belt who was about 9 years old. I smiled and said "Good evening, ma'am, how are you doing tonight?"
     
  8. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    However, good manners are taught. They're not intuitive. So students are taught to show respect.


    Sent from an old fashioned 300 baud acoustic modem by whistling into the handset. Not TapaTalk. Really.
     
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  9. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    That would be regarded as sarcastic here. I was also in the military and the throwing around of sir and ma'am was not as much as I know it is in US forces or in the US as a whole. We also have different rules in the military about saluting, here we don't salute the person we salute the monarch, with the badge on the headgear representing her so no saluting without your military headgear on. There's no lack of respect but we simply don't use 'sir/ma'am' and it's rare to find it used in civvy street. It's not something the UK society uses very often but then we can call you 'mate' or 'guv' or even something rude and it will contain more respect.
    I would not nor do I know anyone who would train with someone who demanded to be called sir or who would reprimand you for not using it. That's not respect nor is it politeness here, it's control and ego. We will say 'yes/no sensei' or the Korean/Chinese etc equivalent but rarely 'sir'. I do understand that in American society it's considered a politeness but here not so much.
     
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  10. Rough Rider

    Rough Rider Green Belt

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    So, again, it comes down to cultural differences. First, I was absolutely not being sarcastic with that little girl. Second, I find it interesting that you have such a problem with the word "sir", but not "sensei". To me, they carry the same weight.
     
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  11. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    I know you weren't being sarcastic, I said that it would be regarded as sarcasm here, we don't talk to children that way. I don't have a problem at all, as I said 'sir' and 'ma'am' aren't in common usage here because as you say it's a cultural difference between the UK and the US but it's not a problem at all. I don't know why you'd think it is.
     
  12. andyjeffries

    andyjeffries Master of Arts

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    The pronunciation would also be weird.

    Al-gess-suhm-ni-da and an-im-ni-da would be pronounced closer.

    They also mean more like "I think I know" and "it's not".
     
  13. Rough Rider

    Rough Rider Green Belt

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    I guess I've just been over thinking it; trying a little too hard to expand my Korean vocabulary.

    Another situation I was thinking of is when I do my poomse. The instructor asks "What's your form?" I reply "Keumgang, sir." He says "Shijak" and I begin. Well, I've been trying to replace that "sir" with a Korean word, but why bother with one little word when the entire exchange is a mix of two languages?

    Sorry, Tez, for going off on you like that.
     
  14. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    No worries, :)
    It's a class thing here more than a politeness thing, so that many resent calling someone 'sir' though it can be delivered in such a way that it's a downright insult lol.
     
  15. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    And taught what constitutes respect in that context. I did not grow up saying "sir" or "ma'am" (even though I grew up in an area where that is actually common), but it was the culture in the NGA dojo's I came up in. There wouldn't have been a harsh reprimand if I had omitted it, but I'd have faced a steely silence from my first instructor until I fixed it. Think less "drill sergeant" and more "we are not amused".

    In any case, just as one teaches children (who are just learning courtesy and respect) to say "please" or "thank you" by giving them a reminder and/or reprimand, many instructors do the same with students who are learning the new context of the training hall.

    I believe this actually serves another training purpose, too. Watching your actions - even small ones - allows you to become aware of things you weren't. You start to notice how you fail to show respect in small ways, which can make you a better communicator. In self-defense terms, this also can help prepare the clear and respectful speech patterns that are least likely to inflame a situation.

    Okay, I'm rambling. Time for more coffee.
     
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  16. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    Perhaps though some take martial arts beyond the hobby that most do so it becomes far more than just a physical activity. I don't know many martial arts places here that think we teach more than martial arts. Good manners and courtesy etc are assumed to have been taught by parents, not martial arts instructors any more than football coaches or gymnastic teachers.
    I've noticed that many seem to immerse themselves in the whole 'Eastern martial arts' thing much more than most I know here do. I imagine it happens though some people want more out of martial arts than just the physical actions.
    I think too there is the differing perceptions of what an instructor is, for me and most others I know while we respect the instructor's skills we do regard him/her as the person we pay to teach us things, we do not pay to be reprimanded because we didn't call him 'sir'. We don't pay either to be taught 'manners' or to be treated like military recruits. We are polite because that's how we've been brought up and respect will be paid where respect is due, it doesn't happen automatically just because you teach martial arts rather than golf or badminton. You can admire skills but that doesn't mean you have to respect a person if they aren't worthy of it.
    Discipline is an odd thing, you can teach people to shout how high when you tell them to jump but that isn't discipline it's Pavlov's dog syndrome, the only sort of discipline worth anything is self discipline. As the Royal Marines say here 'it's a state of mind' and no amount of reprimands and calling someone sir is going to give you that. In fact RM training now has little shouting, it's about using your self discipline to get through it not being drilled into being infantry. Very different from most other military training and the 'product' that comes out the other end is very very good.
    Royal Marines it's a state of mind - Bing video
     
  17. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    I think there's a continuum of schools, and somewhere on that continuum, the focus expands beyond just the physical skills. I see nothing wrong with pursuing only the physical skills, mind you - that's where I started from. I just happened to find a school that included some development principles, as well, and benefited from them. Discipline is something you gain, not something taught. Anything you do that requires you act outside your first reaction helps develop discipline. Thus, learning to use some new nomenclature (whether it is "sir", "sensei", or any other term) and use it respectfully and regularly, is one way of developing more discipline. There are many others most of us experience: repeating boring drills, going to class when we have no desire that day, standing still, attending quietly while someone is talking,
     
  18. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    Are people so rude then that it takes martial arts classes to teach them manners? Most people I know their first reaction is to be polite. Using 'sensei' is the same as saying 'doctor', 'vicar' or 'postie' when talking to those people who's job it is. I don't believe calling someone sir, is going to teach discipline if you have to be 'reprimanded' ( again though a 'reprimand' here is something serious) to use it, it may cause fear, embarrassment, shame but rarely discipline. Call a lot of people here 'sir' they will as my husband does, retort 'don't call me sir, I work for a living', it's not a term of respect really.

    If people want to find an enlightenment in a martial arts class I wish them well with that search but too often it's an instructor who gets gratification from being saluted and called 'sir' rather than any student learning anything from it other than how to boost an ego.
    We have a lot of words here we use instead of sir... boss, guvnor, chief much more respectful when we mean if, however if your instructor is a bit of a merchant banker then they don't deserve to be called sir.
     
  19. andyjeffries

    andyjeffries Master of Arts

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    I would say either "Keumgang halgo-eh-yo, sabumnim" or "Keumgang sabumnim". The first one means "I'll do Keumgang, honourable master", the second one just means "Keumgang, honourable master".

    You shouldn't refer to yourself as Sabumnim, only Sabum, but adding -nim makes it more polite when talking to someone else.

    However, this is quite normal internationally; to be asked the question in English, reply with the name of a poomsae (which happens to be Korean) in an English reply, and then be given a Korean command to start. So don't worry too much about it.
     
  20. andyjeffries

    andyjeffries Master of Arts

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    Ha ha ha, I wonder how many of our international friends that will be lost on...
     
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