07 September 2008

Drive by Ranting: Dongdaemun

While at Dongdaemun this weekend, I asked a saleswoman IN KOREAN, "세-트예요?" ("Is that a set?") I was trying to pronounce "set" with Korean parum, so I think the word came out sounding loud and awkward.

The woman replied with a patronizing gleam in her eye "세-트않이에요," mimicking my choppy and hesitant Korean accent. I know that I tend to be overly sensitive, but I'm pretty sure the woman was mocking me. She could have meant it in a more good natured way, but there was definitely some mocking going on.

Unless you know a person fairly well, it's so not cool to make fun of a person's accent, especially when she is still learning a language. I know that some teachers promptly correct the English pronunciation of their Korean students. I try to avoid doing this because I figure that it's more important for students to get the words out and speak, rather than obsess over proper pronunciation -- something I always struggle with when I attempt to speak Korean.


Anonymous said...

i feel your frustration... as an ethnic "korean" - i can't stand it when (some - fortunately) native koreans have this, what you call it - "high horse" syndrome, or "pride" that when you, a non-native speaker try your best to communicate with them in their/our language. it used to BUG the heck out of me when a non-ethnic korean friend would mispronounce a word or stumble and stutter a bit on a fairly common phrase, and the korean ajumma would jus smile and laugh and say "oh your korean is SO good...", and to add insult to the injury, that friend would then turn to me and say, "SEE i speak way better korean than you do!" i just sigh and shake my head and think "right, lets see you find yourself around here by yourself." but you know fortunately ever since world cup - i think that friend could survive with the little broken korean he does know and the new and improved "romanized" signs, along with more english signage around. AND esp. again looking like a foreigner - people would be more forgiving and helpful. i guess thats life and you just got to roll with the punches. - ok i'll now step down from my soap box.

- "little jaded" korean

the_intern said...

i totally understand too. when i want a lemon iced tea, i try saying 'reh-mon' and they look at me funny and think i'm the bad english speaker. so, i'm pretty much stuck with 복숭아 아이스티 everytime.

this is kinda off the subject nonetheless funny in its own way. i was on a cab once and i had to get to the hilton so i told the cab driver 'hilton 가주세요.' and he corrected me! "hilton이 아니고, 'hill-tone'이야. 영어좀 똑바로 배워 학생..."

isnt life in korea so exciting? ha..ha.. :]

annalog said...

I love Cold Stone's banana ice cream, but it's always an ordeal to order it. It either takes me several tries plus some exaggerated pointing. Or, I end up with banana ice cream plus banana topping.