Thursday, May 04, 2006

Brief Linguistic Excursus: Trouble with "l" annd "r"

Engrish for Boys and Girls
(Yes, I know this isn't Korean.)

I've gotten used to it now, but when I first taught in Korea ten years ago, students' remarks often mystified me.

I recall one student informing me that teaching was a hard profession because one has to "collect" essays.

"What?" I said.

"Teaching is hard because teachers have to collect essays," my student repeated.

"Why is that hard?" I asked, baffled.

"It takes much time," the student explained.

"Collecting essays takes a lot of time?" I asked.

"Yes," the student confirmed.

"Collecting essays?"


"But," I objected, "that takes hardly any time at all."

Now, the student looked baffled, but with good Confucian courtesy showed proper respect for his teacher's view, bowed his head and said, "Prease, I am solly. You are light."

I stared at him for a moment, taking this in. Then, the light flickered on in this teacher's dim mind, and I understood. "Oh," I said, "you mean that correcting essays is hard."

Thus did I learn of the Korean tendency to confuse the letters "l" and "r."

Which leads me to wonder -- now that I think about it -- what, precisely, my little half-Korean En-Uk meant by saying "You'd have to pray for fourteen nights."


At 9:18 AM, Blogger steph said...

Now that is funny! He is cleverer than you gave him credit for and witty too! Praying indeed. As if...! Mind you why must you play for fourteen nights? What is the significance of fourteen?

At 9:50 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Hey, you're back! Good to hear from you again. As for the number 14, I've also been puzzling on this.

I suppose that I could ask En-Uk ... but I'm a bit fearful of doing so. Who knows what I'd uncover!

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 6:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a delightful little series you are doing, Jeffery!

At 6:32 PM, Blogger steph said...

Of course you must ask En-Uk. He's the wise one and could enlighten us both!

I have dial-up and often I can't get your blog especially with the pictures. Broadband is very expensive here and not even that reliable.

I've also been to the UK and I went to Sheff and spent time with James and then Notts and stayed with Maurice.... drinking champagne and going to the ballet among university things....!!! I'll probably have the benefit of both of their expertise and go to Sheff in September...

All terribly terrifying and exciting!

At 10:35 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Nathan, unless something humorous again escapes En-Uk's lips, this little series will stop today, unfortunately.

Steph, I took the risk and posed the question. En-Uk's story is that he was talking about having 14 babies -- 9 boys and 5 girls. But I'm not sure if that was his original idea or if he came up with it as a 'plausible' explanation.

And I'm glad that you enjoyed your time in merry old England.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:20 AM, Blogger Kate Marie said...

I agree with Nathan B. This is delightful.

At 3:49 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, KM.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 2:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good story! When my wife & I lived in Daejeon, the hot bar to go was called the Zoo. Because, in Konglish, Z = J (or DJ), the bar became the Jew. The teachers would tell us that there is only one Jew in Daejeon, and I would always think, "Of course there is. My wife!"

Down the street from the Zoo is the Fuzzy Duck. Because, in Konglish, F = P, the bar became the Pudgy Duck.

Finally, one day our boss was telling us how much he loved to fish. He held his hands out in front of him as if he were holding out in front of him a long pole secured against his hips. He declared proudly, "I enjoy pishing!"

At 4:44 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Brendan, your tales are better than mine.

Jeffery Hodges

At 1:41 AM, Blogger harshini said...

Hey...what delightful guys you are!
I meant Jeffery and Brendan too. Living in India...i hear no such words..


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