Discussion in '한국어 (Korean)' started by slowlikemolasses, Apr 20, 2013.
In what type of situation can a man call a woman 언니?
a gay man/transexual perhaps? I don't know. hope a native could tell us
no way...... it sounds so silly.
Go to Itaewon, and you will find some gay guys who use that term (not making fun of gay guys, but I've seen it with my eyes). Otherwise, guys never say that.
As you might know, 언니 is generally used by younger women to call an older woman friendly. But it is commonly used by female salesclerks, hairdressers, shop owners to address their female customers, regardless of their age. Certainly very rarely, well, in any 'decent' shop. But in little shops located on streets or in Dongdaemun market, if you are female, you are often called '언니' by a salesclerk who is a total stranger to you...
That said, some male salesclerks, hairdressers, and mobile phone sellers do call their female customers(or passersby) 언니. Like "언니, 이것 좀 보고 가!"(언니, come and have a look at this item!) or "언니, 머릿결 정말 좋다."(언니, you have very silky hair.) That doesn't mean those guys are gay. They just want to give friendly air to customers. But this kind of usage is not very polite and there are many people who don't like being called 언니 by men, or women whom you just happened to face(Personally I hate that).
Oh..and a little boy, who has female siblings only and has seen his sisters call one another 언니, often call an older girl 언니, mimicking his sisters. Kind of cute. But as the boy gets older and gets to know how to properly call each member of family, he would soon correct his behavior.
It's mostly well explained by others, so I'll just organize by case to make things more visible.
Speaker knows the younger sister of listener.
He may have adopted 언니 from the younger sister.
As reine said, it usually happens for boys, but it sometimes happen in older age.
Man is gay. He'd treat himself as woman and would use 언니 to call older woman.
Sometimes it's used to refer any woman regardless age not necessarily confined to older women than speaker.
The usage seems more prominent in service industry and adopted by male and female speaker.
Although correct origin is not clear, it may be possibly remnants from colonial era.
お姉さん means 언니 in Japanese, and it also mean waitress or young lady.
People at times call 언니 to refer waitress or young lady customer.
Only some men use it as 아가씨 sounds more plesant than 언니.
Everyone said the right answer but i would like to quote some: (apologize me for bad english)
The word '언니' in ancient Korea could be headed to every elder(male and female). Also a Man calling a woman '언니' is not THAT gay situation i must say. Because I do use '언니' when a young girl attendance comes to my table in a bar or in a local shop. I use it to show hospitality and to become chummy. So it depends on every situation. Please if you want to know more about it, comment with situation.
Beside, nowadays still many korean men with girlish name such as 신영, or etc;(we do have many girlish name guys.) are also called with 'name+언니', being bullied. (Usually girls do that)
Separate names with a comma.