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Are some of these spellings / pronunciations less formal or slang versions of the word? I was surprised to see Google Translate translate 'baby' as 아가, as I had thought that was an informal version of the word.

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아기 : Formal word for baby

애기 : Informal word

너 애기 있니 ? = 너 아기 있니 ?

애기가 빨리 생겼으면 좋겠다

Do you have a baby ?

I expect that I will have a baby very soon.

[Addition]

1) 애기 is used as a nickname for sweetheart in Korean drama

" 애기야 가자 " " My sweetheart, shall we go ? "

2) 애 = 아이 = a child

Even though 애 is not a baby, frequently it indicate baby : Usually, between intimate acquaintances, we can use "그 애들 애는 있니?" = "애는?" = " 그 애들 아기는 있니 "

"They have a baby ?" 또는 "baby ?"

3) 얘기 = talking : When I was child, I confuse the spellings for 애기 and 얘기. Hence I did not use 애기 and use 아기.

아가 : 1. 아기를 귀엽게 부르는 말 Cute version for baby

주로 할머니들이 자신의 손자 손녀 또는 남의 아기를 부를 때 쓰는 말

Usually, grandmother call her grandson or other's baby, who can not speak

"Grandson, shall I give an apple ?"

"아가 사과 주까 ?"

"My son, shall we sleep ?"

"우리 아가, 인제 자야지"

[Addition] 아기 and 아가 are totally different. 아기 is indicating and 아가 is calling

2.시어머니가 젊은 며느리를 친근하게 부르는 말

When one's husband's mother call a daughter-in-law, then she can use this word representing intimacy between them.

"이 애가 우리집 며느리여. 새 아가 밥 차려 온나"

"새 아기가(=새 댁이=new house) 참하네. 며느리 잘 얻었어"

"This is our daughter-in-law. New baby, can you prepare dinner?"

"She is gorgeous. You obtain her well"

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  • Very nice answer. Apr 3 '18 at 5:59
  • Thanks, but this answer is missing an explanation of 아가, so I'm not sure why this is the top answer.
    – Ben Jones
    Aug 9 at 23:24
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I am not a regular speaker of Korean, only hearing Korean in my childhood through parents, relatives, and TV dramas.

I think it's like this, though:

  • 아가 is informal, and I'm surprised by Google's translation as well. In English, I imagine a father holding up a baby and saying, "Say dada. Da-da." I don't know the linguistic term for it, but that transformation from "daddy" to "da-da" feels very similar to the transformation of 아기 or 애기 to 아가. I have only heard it in a context of endearment, except for my mother's mother who speaks in very heavy 경상도 사투리 (a southern dialect, comparable to southern, "hillbilly" dialects in the US), in which 아가 might actually be the default.

  • I personally am not sure which is more formal between 아기 and 애기. I lean toward the first, but possibly because 아이 is the formal word for "child". I also feel like I have heard 아기 more in doctor's offices and polite (non-familiar) conversations, and 애기 more in conversations between my mother and her friends. (But it's definitely possible 애기 is more the default in a different dialect.)

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아가 is more like calling. You cannnot call someone by only saying 아기, 애기 since ther are just nouns. You need to put 호격 조사 "야" to use those words to call someone. And 아기 is a formal word but 애기 is more like a cuter word for baby. Simply it is like baby and bebe.

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아기;standard word.

아가;same as 아기.

애기;informal word. but most people pronounce because of "ㅣ모음 역행동화"(=reverse assimilation of vowel 'ㅣ').

It will help you. https://www.korean.go.kr/front/onlineQna/onlineQnaView.do?mn_id=216&qna_seq=93968

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