Tuesday, April 14, 2009

On learning Korean

I have started taking Korean classes, this blog is an explanation as to why.
Scene one: I am in the grocery store.
Grocery stores in Korea are like western stores on crack. The constant twitch has left the store's general appearance disheveled; random items are strewn on the floor, including cold products which are often still crated in front of the refrigerated aisle. Frequently, awkward concerts are held on the corner outside the entrance, begging for one more customer-- a desperate plea for just one more bumb. Lastly, there is always a man on a microphone yelling sales with such ceaseless euphoria his energy much be drug induced. This man is the bane of my existance.
I have finally translated my rice cooker, so I go to the store in search of uncooked rice. I have done my homework, ssal aw di eh yo?/where is the uncooked rice? I go up to the slowest of the Sing Sing Market employees. I mean slow in the literal sense of the word-- physically unable to move with speed or alacrity. Korean employees have a tendency to scatter/hide behind anything when they see an English speaker approaching. This poor man's age prevented him from ducking behind the raw fish stand-- no worries though, I am about to speak Korean. "Sal aw di eh yo?" He chuckles (in my opinion too heartily) and takes me to the next employee. "Mat nun mal i ya," he says. I understand he is asking me to say it again, thinking he is so impressed with my Korean, I repeat with added vigor. After, I am paraded to three more employees, all of which buckle in laughter, I know I am missing something. I am mortified, however, when the cracked out man on the microphone is called over and my question is broadcast to the entire store.
In Korean, ssal is uncooked rice and sal is human flesh. The difference to our western ears is relatively negligible. I describe it as; when asking for rice one should sound seven degrees angrier than when asking for flesh. Obviously my pronounciation lacked the proper pathos, insofacto, I'm Hanibal Lecter.
Why, you may ask, don't I simply wander aimlessly and chance taking home the wrong product? Enter Maria stage left. She recently took home a box of questionable cereal, because she lived by the trial and error doctrine. Two spoon fulls in, yes two, she realized it was bird seed.

End of scene one, curtain drops, please enjoy your brief intermission. I must go to bed, just call me Aunt Danette because my bedtime is also 9:30.

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