Monday, November 29, 2010

Language Lessons

I've been studying Korean a lot as of late. A while ago I realized that I will never be fluent, yea, even proficient in Korean. That has taken the pressure off and now practicing and speaking Korean has just become fun. My tutor and I meet every Tuesday and Friday at the Krispy Kreme. (I heard these places went out of business in the states but are still going strong in Korea, go figure.) Sometimes I'm embarrassed to be heard speaking Korean in my broken, American accent. There will be a few people in the KK, pretending to read their newspapers but I know they are listening to me say the equivalent of: "Does this restaurant serve delicious soup?" or, "This is my friend Yuki. She is from Japan." Still, I think my odd bantering with my tutor about the current unit in our textbook must be enduring to the Koreans. I imagine that the other Krispy Kreme patrons are secretly rooting for me and my battle with their language, instead of wonder what the-hell-language it is that I'm trying to speak. That was until this last lesson.

This last lesson was about going to the doctor. I read the first line of the practice dialog where the doctor asks the patient what his symptoms are. The patient then responds that he has a stomach ache and that "diarrhea is coming out" (that's how it translates directly into English). At this I started to snicker, and my tutor asked what was the matter. I just said it was funny, how in English we are rarely so direct with descriptions of our symptoms, but Koreans tend to put all their cards on the table. Now sometimes my tutor gets a little wound up and boisterous. He saw nothing wrong with telling the doctor about this problem and educated me as to all the ways I say this in Korean. To a Krispy Kreme patron, I can only imagine what this mix of Korean and English sounded like. (Just to let you know, Koreans think all English sounds like "sha-la sha-la sha-la"):

My Tutor: sha-la sha-la sha-la "diarrhea coming out" sha-la sha-la sha-la "I have diarrhea" sha-la sha-la sha-la "I have bad dirrhea" sha-la sha-la sha-la sha-la sha-la sha-la "diarrhea" sha-la sha-la sha-la "I have a stomachache and bad diarrhea" sha-la sha-la sha-la "Bad diarrhea has come out since last night."

At the end of this rant I was aghast, but laughing pretty hard as well. My tutor was still confused as to why I was laughing and just moved on to the next line in the dialog. I wonder what the KK customers thought. To see this Korean guy sternly lecturing this foreigner about diarrhea; I wonder if they found anything odd about it. I wonder if they thought our topic of conversation was strange and humorous, or just gross. Maybe, on the inside, somebody was laughing as hard as I was at the absurdity of it all. But honestly, I think most people (more mature than I) just saw we were having a language lesson on stomach problems and went on their way in this big city of millions of people.

1 comment:

sis said...

so funny!!! I love it! I almost had "stomach problems of my own reading this!