One Man’s Social is Another Man’s Communal

I’ve always been struck by how accepting Koreans generally are of the deluge of foreign words in their language. It’s one thing to use transliterations of English terms for imported concepts or products — 인터넷 (internet), say, or 컴퓨터 (computer) — but 어렌지하다 for arrange? 터프하다 for tough? And even, among a growing cohort of fashion types, 슈즈 for shoes?!

Well enough is enough, says The National Institute of Korean Language, who are urging that Korea casts out the terms “social commerce” and “social shopping” in favour of 공동할인구매 (gongdong halingume, or “communal discount shopping”) before it’s too late!

But while acknowledging the general good in trying to preserve one’s language, Bloter points out (scroll down) that, in fact, the terms “social shopping” and “social commerce” are not interchangeable in Korea. “The term social commerce,” Bloter says, “includes the notion of using SNS to promote sales…

But it doesn’t refer to a specific business model or service style. Of course, SNS’ word of mouth is the embodiment of communal shopping activities … or rather social shopping; or social commerce. But social shopping and social commerce are not the same, so we have to distinguish them, do we not?

I’ve yet to see this difference explained, but if I do, rest assured that I’ll let it be known.

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