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A shibboleth is (according to Wikipedia)

a word or custom whose variations were used to differentiate members of ingroups from those of outgroups

The English Wikipedia also has a long list of examples, but neither there nor in the Korean one (which contains a Japanese example used against Koreans) or elsewhere could I find an example that was used by Koreans. Any pointers?

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    Well that's a new word. Hey why am I learning English here? – user12 Jun 21 '16 at 21:21
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    Such an interesting way to tell apart a group of language speakers! This requires investigation. – Phonics The Hedgehog Jun 21 '16 at 21:42
  • I don't think it exists in Korean, because as far as I know, there was no great need to distinguish Koreans from foreigners throughout history. – MujjinGun Jun 22 '16 at 3:23
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    The English-language edition of Wikipedia mentions shibboleths used against Koreans in en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Korean_sentiment#Japan – Andrew Grimm Mar 25 '17 at 4:44
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People from Gyeongsangdo can easily distinguish '2'(이) and 'e'(이), while people from other places cannot. Actually it was a big issue on the internet a few years ago!

So, for example, Gyeongsangdo people can distinguish the following four: 2^2, e^2, 2^e, e^e

But for other Koreans from other regions like me, everything is just "이(2, e)의 이(2, e)승." You can find many interesting videos by searching with the keyword "이의 이승"!

  • Fascinating! I've learned a new thing today. +1 – Phonics The Hedgehog Jun 22 '16 at 21:40
  • I had fun watching some of these videos - thanks! – Daniel Mietchen Jun 23 '16 at 0:00
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In answering this question on the difference between 에 and 애, I began to realize that the pronunciation of these two vowels is sometimes a shibboleth.

While I (and some Koreans even) cannot tell the audible difference between these two vowels, there are still Koreans (especially the elderly) who claim there is a distinct difference and that they can hear it.

  • Thanks - that's an interesting one too. Unless they have additional information (e.g. while sitting in a 보신탕집), they can probably only hear the difference between 개고기 and 게고기 if someone pronounces these differently, which brings us right back to the potential use as a shibboleth. Anyone got a recording where the two are (said to be) pronounced differently? – Daniel Mietchen Jun 23 '16 at 0:24

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