Thursday, June 25, 2009

One of my reasons for studying Korean was to understand people if they were talking about me. At first, I was disappointed to see that nobody even bothered to make even a simple joke about me, but then I came to realize that nobody really uses pronouns in Korea. E.g. "I go by taxi" is "go by taxi" and "he's a jerk" is simply "jerk".

It's really bizarre to hear someone talk about me right in front of me, as though I'm not there. Here are some of the things I've overheard of late:

Adeel: Boys and girls, is your school old or new?
Boy: New!
Girl : Old!
Girl turns to the girl next to her
Girl: It's really old, built in the '90s!

Dismas: Oh, you've seen that commercial?
Adeel: Yeah, I have.
Dismas: Really? How?
Erica: Yes, he has. He really loves commercials.

(Background: Erica teaches me Korean. Most of my questions come from commercials I saw.)

Adeel: Bye Dismas, bye Dismas' girlfriend.
Dismas (to his girlfriend): Say bye to the foreigner.

Student (to Korean teacher): Teacher, the English teacher said...

Kim: How much is the blowfish? My foreign friends would like to know.

Student (to new student, as though foreigners roam the school for fun): This is the teacher.

Rachel: Oh my God! What're you doing? Adeel doesn't have anything to eat! Look at him!
Rachel (in English): Adeel, do you want more meat?
Adeel: Actually, I'm okay.
Rachel (in Korean): Hurry up! He needs more meat!

Mother (to child): ...the English-language-person...

Erica: He speaks really good Korean.
Friend: Hi, how are you?
Adeel: Huh?

Taxi driver: You speak Korean well.
Adeel: What?

Taxi driver: Your pronunciation is very good.
Adeel: What does pronunciation mean?
Taxi driver: Your Korean...
Adeel: What?

The last few are technically conversations, but I wasn't doing much more than hearing. In that vein, I was walking through a park by my house a couple of weeks ago. There was a family with a toddler playing badminton. The toddler was standing by himself. He stared at me wide-eyed as I approached.

When I passed by, he covered his eyes with his hands.

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