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Koreans who don't speak Korean
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HamuHamu



Joined: 01 May 2003
Location: Seoul

PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2003 3:33 am    Post subject: Koreans who don't speak Korean Reply with quote

Does this frustrate anyone else...the Koreans who have it set in their head from the moment they lay eyes on you, that they are NOT going to be able to understand a word you say - BEFORE you even open your mouth??

It happens all the time, and it really drives me nuts, but tonight I was in a mood and I actually got angry about it. I walk to the ticket counter at the subway and hand over my card and a man-won note. I only want to put 5,000 on my card (only had 10 on me and needed to buy some water, too!) so I say to him "Oh cheon won chuseyo."

He stares at me and says "HUH?" I repeat, "Oh chon won" and this time hold up 5 fingers. Another "Huh." I'm frustrated...I say "OH CHON WON! DO YOU SPEAK KOREAN???" He stares at me and mumbles something, but makes no attempt to charge my card. I say "Hangeul mal anio??? " (A little sarcastically, I guess bordering on rude...). He stares. I point to the card, I point to my money, I say "Five Thousand Won on my card please....OH CHON WON!"

He mumbles again. Finally the man behind me says something in Korean to the ticket agent, and then turns to me and says...(get this) "He didn't understand, he thought you wanted 5,000 tickets." Ticket agent charges my card, and gives me the change.

COME ON! PLEASE! Now, what kind of an idiot do I have to be to buy 5000 subway tickets??? AND how stupid am I if I try to do it with 10,000 won?? (Mental calcualtion comes to about ... 3million?)

But this kind of stuff happens all the time....you go to a bar and order a "Cass maekchu" and they stare and say "huh" and you repeat yourself three times before you get a beer....does it happen to anyone else? Do you get just down right p-o'd about it sometimes?

I realize that as English speakers, we are accustomed to different accents. Not just native accent differences (Brit, Kiwi, Aussie, Canadian), but also hearing Germans, Indians, Koreans, Latin Americans, etc, speaking English with a different accent. So, we are a bit more able to discern the differences in sound and understand things. Koreans only hear other Koreans speak the language, so they have a bit more difficulty and are really shocked to hear other people speak non-fluently. But come on!!!! Why can they not put things into a proper situation or context and try to think for a moment and see if they can possibly stretch the imagination a wee little bit, and decipher what is possibly being said?


Does it seem like too much to ask?!?!?
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Skippy



Joined: 18 Jan 2003
Location: Daejeon

PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2003 3:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Boy I have been there.

I think for some Koreans they see a foreigner and assumes that we do not speak korean so they do not listen. My girlfriend (Aussie) speaks OK korean but many times she has had the UHNH from a korean. Or you ask and all you get is idiotic head nodding. Come on people try a little.

Sometimes even the most simple of things can be flucked up. as per HamuHamus story. I have had MUL Juseyo confused. I have said one cola please and had a blank stare.

I sometime put misunderstanding up to my pronounciation. But not all the time.

But in all this type of behavior make me wanted to scream.

Skippy the Evil Twin Twisted Evil
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weatherman



Joined: 14 Jan 2003
Location: Korea

PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2003 3:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You gave a very good answer for why they do not hear you (us) when we speak in Korean. It is that whole divide between them and us. What Koreans do, can't be done by westerners, or so they think. This mental block on their part is the biggest frustration and a leading cause in the culural misunderstanding whirlpool.

Last edited by weatherman on Wed Jun 11, 2003 4:08 am; edited 1 time in total
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Cedar



Joined: 11 Mar 2003
Location: In front of my computer, again.

PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2003 4:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, a lot of people get that in their head and can't get it out. The worst it ever happened to me, I got so worked up, and I speak fast, and I use some Daegu dialect, and I was in Seoul--- well by the time I wrote "멍청이 왜 한국 말 못해?????" (Stupid (person), why don't (understand)(you) Korean?) On her hand and forearm with a big permanent ink marker my Korean had probably become rather hard to understand. I find in general that keeping calm helps a lot. Speaking slower also helps. Believe it or not. It also helps if you NEVER use romanization, not even in your mind. I hear a lot of foreigners speaking Korean and they speak it as though they were reading romanization with exact English pronunciation... Which of course doesn't work.

I also whenever I can take my business somewhere else. If a clerk or a fruit ajumma holds up fingers or brings out a calculator when I've asked them politely in Korean, and when I ask them what's the price, again (ignoring fingers or calculator) and they continue to ignore my polite question, then I'll go some where else unless I really have a hard time finding what I am trying to buy. It also confounds the ajummas if I ditch them, take three steps, and buy the same thing for the same price from the next ajumma. Maybe they can get it through their head that it was because the next ajumma responded to me in a natural way, instead of treating me like a retard.
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waterbaby



Joined: 01 Feb 2003
Location: Baking Gord a Cheescake pie

PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2003 4:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that Korean people are often listening to us with "English Ears", that is, they're expecting us to speak English and we don't... does not compute.

Also, we're used to listening to Koreans (& other nationalities) speak English with an (often strong) accent. Growing up in Melbourne, I had friends, neighbours, fellow students and co-workers who have spoken English with an accent and it's something you get used to. I think it's a little bit weird for Koreans to hear us speak their language with our own warped accents.

Even the most minor of differences can leave their faces blank - I say "Passport" in Korean instead of "Yeogwon" or "family" instead of "leather" and even within the context of the conversation, they can't get it. This has often frustrated me, even with my own husband - "Can't you think laterally??? Shocked " I scream at him. Well, not really, but sometimes I want to. Patience patience patience...
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kylehawkins2000



Joined: 08 Apr 2003

PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2003 4:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It happens to me all the time. My Korean pronunciation is pretty decent but I'll admit it's no where near perfect. I chalk alot of it up to the accent. They are expecting to hear something they don't understand anyway, so when you blurt something out in heavily accented English they just don't get it. Most of the time if I repeat myself several times they'll get it but not always........

I think the accent shouldn't be underestimated.....it is more powerful here than in english countries (for reasons already commented on by others).
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steroidmaximus



Joined: 27 Jan 2003
Location: GangWon-Do

PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2003 5:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ditto here.. .it is an extremely frustrating experience. To back up what others have said about the why of it, I offer this anecdote: on several occasions, asking in Korean for something simple, not being understood, but once I say it in English they light up and go "ah, yes, right away". Now that is a hoot.

I've been told by many people that my Korean pronunciation is excellent (I've had some good teachers Wink ). But they just don't expect to hear you speaking Korean.
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crazylemongirl



Joined: 23 Mar 2003
Location: almost there...

PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2003 5:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What gets me is when I say a word, and then the Korean speaker kind of scratches their head I say it a few more times. Then they repeat the word either exactly the same or just a little diff... Grr.

Still I suppose that's what some of my students must get that same feeling when I correct their pronuciation on things like ruler Laughing

CLG
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Wombat



Joined: 28 May 2003
Location: slutville

PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2003 5:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

...and then, there is the total linguistic shut down. I'm sure a lot of you know what I mean - where the shopkeeper/waiter/... simply can't compute the fact that you're speaking Korean (albeit shakily pronounced), and they're in the position of not knowing any English. Their hands are tied - it's obvious that you aren't going to understand a WORD of their Korean. What to do? Solution: look embarrassed, wave hands about ineffectually. Phew - the foreigner usually wanders off looking confused as to what they did wrong. Silly us, trying to learn the native tongue! Smile
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Tiger Beer



Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Location: Hong Kong

PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2003 5:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What pisses me off most is when I say Cass Maekju Chuseyo.. and they give you the 'huh' look.. so you say it again.. and they give you another 'huh' look.. and then they say 'are you trying to say you want a beer?' in English..

Great.. thats really great you can speak English.. but, realy.. I just want a Cass Beer.. can you give it to me now?

This is most common in Itaewon.

---------------------

Anyhow, what Korean I do know, I know extremely well and been understood by thousands of Koreans beforehand.. so it is really annoying when I know my Korean if being said perfectly, but the listener is struggling for some reason..
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The Lemon



Joined: 11 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2003 6:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, the damn calculator. I figure the secondary purpose of the calculator is to make it harder to negotiate - as in, "here's the price in black and white. Pay the money." Of course, I negotiate anyway.
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gang ah jee



Joined: 14 Jan 2003
Location: city of paper

PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2003 6:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I also whenever I can take my business somewhere else. If a clerk or a fruit ajumma holds up fingers or brings out a calculator when I've asked them politely in Korean, and when I ask them what's the price, again (ignoring fingers or calculator) and they continue to ignore my polite question, then I'll go some where else unless I really have a hard time finding what I am trying to buy.


if i get fingers or calculator I just repeat the price back to them in Korean - sam chon-on yo? ne...

I haven't been calculatored for ages though. I miss it. The people in my area are a little too nonchalant about foreigners speaking korean for my liking.
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Len8



Joined: 12 Feb 2003
Location: Kyungju

PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2003 7:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bit off the thread, but that late night drama on Korean TV about pre Korean War Korea or whatever has some interesting characters playing the leads. Most of the guys plying the parts of the US and British Generals are all teachers, but they also have a character in there from India who's representing another group. From listening to him speak I'd say he was speaking perfect Korean. Many Korean friends have remarked at his fluency, and are quiet awed by it. How was he able to get the language down so perfectly?
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AmusedIndeed
Guest




PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2003 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I say "Hangeul mal anio??? " (A little sarcastically, I guess bordering on rude...). He stares. I point to the card, I point to my money, I say "Five Thousand Won on my card please....OH CHON WON!"


Well... judging from your post, I think it's pretty safe to say that the Korean dude had no f#@king clue what you were trying to say.

First of all the "Hangeul mal anio???" part doesn't make any sense. It's like me saying "I not English???" (and probably in an undecipherably bad accent).

Second, just by reading your spelling of the 5000 I know right away that you have no idea how to pronounce the word correctly. To spell it phonetically it's "Oh CHUN-un". Not "CHON". I wonder how many 7-11 owners here in California would understand me if I said "Give me Pibe Dousand Dullah".
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Hank Scorpio



Joined: 18 Jan 2003
Location: Ann Arbor, MI

PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2003 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

AmusedIndeed wrote:
I wonder how many 7-11 owners here in California would understand me if I said "Give me Pibe Dousand Dullah".


Oh, they'd understand you, they'd just shoot your ass since they'd think they're being robbed.
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