Gyeonggi dialect

Native to South Korea, North Korea
Region Gyeonggi, Incheon, Seoul, Kaesong
  • Seoul
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottolog seou1239[1]

The Gyeonggi (경기 방언) or Seoul dialect (서울말) of Korean is the basis of the standard language of both North and South Korea. It is spoken in the Seoul National Capital Area in South Korea, which includes Seoul, Incheon, and Gyeonggi, as well as in Kaesong in North Korea.

The vowels for e and ae are merged for young speakers. Vowel length is not distinguished consistently, if at all.

Among young speakers or in informal contexts, the postpositions -do (-도, "also"), -ro (-로, "to") and -go (-고, "and then") and their derivatives tend to be pronounced with -du (-두), -ru (-루) and -gu (-구). The sentence-final verb ending -yo tends to be pronounced with a schwa, which is sometimes transcribed as -yeo (-여) on the Internet in informal contexts.

Samchon (삼촌, "uncle") is usually pronounced as samchun (삼춘).

Young Seoul dialect speakers tend to end interrogative sentences (questions) with -nya? (-냐?). They also use unique intonations slightly different from those used by broadcast news readers. The informal ending -eo (-어) is also used quite commonly in both Seoul dialect questions and sentences.

Variations in accent

The Seoul accent can be divided into three variations: conservative, general, and modified. The conservative form is often found in those who have been born or have lived in Seoul before the industrialisation in the 1970s (i.e. old natives in Seoul). To some people, this can slightly sound like a North Korean accent. Good examples can be found in speeches of a Seoul-born famous singer, Lee Mun-se. Older broadcast recordings (especially those from the 1980s at least) can also be typical examples of this accent. The accent used in the Daehan News, a government-made film-based news media, may be a humorous version of this accent.

The general form can be found in speeches by nearly all broadcast news anchors these days. This variation may lie in between the conservative and the modified forms. This accent may be used for recordings of Korean-language listening comprehension tests to high school students and is considered to be the standard/formal South Korean accent. Hence, news anchors and reporters who have mastered this dialect for their profession are considered to be South Korea's most grammatically/lingually accurate, precise, and eloquent citizens.

The last variation is usually spoken by younger generations (including teenagers) and lower-class middle-aged persons in the Seoul Metropolitan Area. Some middle and upper class persons in Seoul may speak with this accent due to lack of 'rigid' lingual education policies.[2] This variation has emerged in public since the early 1990s. Even a few young broadcast news anchors may speak with some features of this accent nowadays, especially when they present in entertainment programmes rather than radio news. The most notable characteristic of this form is that the pitch goes up at the end of a sentence, which many people who speak with Gyeongsang accents find offensive or irritating. The pitch-up feature is due to influence by migrants from Jeolla regions into Seoul during the industrialisation.

See also


  1. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Seoul". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. Even some persons, living in Seoul or its suburbs, of those social classes (including South Korean high-rank officials or police commissioners, politicians, and so on) may have local accents, because there had been a huge domestic migration into Seoul throughout South Korean modern history. A good example can be found in former president Kim Young-sam, who stuck to his own Gyeongsang accent rather than converting to the Seoul accent.
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