이왕 그게 영어였으면...

Flooooooooor

Senior Member
English - USA
Hi all,

The following post contains a comment from the internet, so might not be polite language.

There is a video on YouTube which I cannot link to on this forum entitled "한국어와 똑닮은 언어가 인도에?! 김치랑 막걸리도 있다고! (인도 타밀어)", or "Why Korean and Tamil(southern India) are so similar?". In the video, a Korean speaker and two Tamil speakers marvel at the similarities in pronunciation between many words in their native languages. For example, a Tamil word that sounds like "안니" means "older sister" and is quite close to Korean "언니".

One comment below the video reads:

"하..이왕 그게 영어였으면 얼마나 개이득이였을깜..."

I inferred that writer is humorously communicating his regret that English, a very different language from Korean, doesn't share as many cognates with Korean as does Tamil. If instead of Tamil, English were the language uncannily similar to Korean, the writer would have been able to learn English easily and would now likely be earning a great deal of money using those language skills. First, is this interpretation correct?

My main question is about the use of the word 이왕 in this sentence. Until now I have seen this word used to mean something like "already", in terms of getting across that something has started, emphasizing that its having started cannot be undone: "이왕 시작한 바엔 끝을 봐야겠다.", "이왕 그렇게 된 일, 후회해 봤자 소용없다."

Here, though, 이왕 doesn't seem to feel like it means "already", but rather something like "during all that time", as in "if during all that time [that I had been growing up as a student and studying English in school] that [language with so many similarities to Korean] were English, how much f***ing money could I have made..."

Am I reading this sentence right? If so, are there some other usage examples with this "flavor" of the word 이왕? Thanks for any perspective on this.
 
  • Rigardo Lee

    Senior Member
    For the better part of the situation, probably.

    When you add 이왕 in a sentence, you are speculating it to happen and finish in a better way.

    In "이왕 시작한 바엔 끝을 봐야겠다.", you are not that happy that you ever got started with something, but anyway you would be finishing it, hoping your struggle would contribute any better to the situation.

    Likewise, "이왕 그렇게 된 일, 후회해 봤자 소용없다." has a similar connotation of 이왕 where you are anyway not that content with the situation you are currently in, but decided not to regret over it to see a more positive aspect of the situation.

    In conclusion, listeners expect you to be in a bad context when you say 이왕, but we would also presume that you are intentionally ignoring all negative consequences that would be coming through the context, hoping things would turn out better than expected.
     
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