Week 14, Friday

Upon leaving, Heejoo and “Wooseok is my boyfriend” girl shouted hello to me across the courtyard. They were holding hands so I slung my arm around Wooseok fan and asked what’s up.

“I’m happy.” Heejoo said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because boyfriend.”

“Heejoo likes Joonhee In 6-1!” Wooseok fan shouted in betrayal (a role reversal from awhile back when the girls revealed Wooseok fan’s crush on a boy in 6-3).

Heejoo quickly released hands so she could punch Wooseok fan and chase her around. Heejoo told me Joonhee is shorter than her but I told her don’t worry, when he gets to high school he’ll grow very tall (and at the rate these kids are growing I believe it). I asked if she wanted to date him but she said no… so I’m still unsure if either of them have a boyfriend like they claim. But I love being in on their lives: Free subscription to The Kids of Jungnang County.

I took a bus to Namdaemun market to search for Christmas gifts but only bought various street food for myself; further indulgence was stopped by an ominous rumbling from my stomach. There were stalls selling Santa Clauses and Christmas ornaments and even more selling socks and hats and shopkeepers shouting in Japanese, Chinese, and English.

Street meat.

An Arabic woman bartered with the shopkeeper at a shoe stand: “brother please, 깎으세요”. I feel like I need to attend a Middle Eastern or Chinese bartering training camp.

Nearby I overheard a small tour group and followed them into a long tent of restaurants figuring I could get some culinary advice for free. The tent was lined on either side by long metal tables where every five feet was a different woman shouting about noodles and bibimbap. One woman at the entrance of the tent grabbed my hand and told me “beauty. Number one.” And also asked if I wanted noodles.

But at least one girl a week holds my hand so this didn’t phase me in the slightest; I simply held her hand back and said “it’s cold today”.

Language corner

Verb root + da = to [verb]
Verb root + she + da = honorific of to [verb]

The following are all simple present tense.
Verb root = casual
Verb root + yo = polite
Verb root + se + yo = polite and honorific OR polite command (please do…)
Verb root + eemneeda = formal statement
Verb root + eemnikka? = formal question
Verb root + she + eemneda = formal and honorific

Even if you answer with a single word, you must tack on a polite or formal ending lest it appear you are speaking casually. Korean YouTube has told me that this is one way you are rude without realizing it (and unfortunately it’s something I’ve been doing). Example:
이거 뭐예요? What is it?
커피요. Coffee-yo.

(So you can see how casual speech is the easiest and also why if I speak it too often I go out and about, forget yo, then must awkwardly tack it on at the end). Bla bla bla……yo.

Casual, polite, and formal tenses are used depending on the environment. Honorifics are used depending on the person to whom your speaking or of whom you’re speaking. Sometimes the students use polite+honorific with me and sometimes just polite tense.

Hello in Korean is annyeonghaseyo; so every hello is actually polite and honorific (lit: you do peace).

Earlier this week a very small grade 1 student saw me passing the ddeokbokki stand and said “annyeonghashemneekka?” Which is both formal and honorific. It was so cute and also very funny because of her extreme formality: I told the makgeolli men from yesterday and they had a laugh. It’s not something you’d find funny unless you know Korean.

This morning I passed a quiet grade 5 boy who struggles in English class but is trying harder under Gs command. He said “hello” and then stopped with great interest:
“한국말 하시지요?” You speak Korean, right?
“조금” a little

He was awed by this fact, somehow, even though I thought by now most of the students knew.

한국말 Korean language
한국말 하다 to speak Korean
시- honorific affix
지- affix that implies “…right?”
요 polite ending
Lit: Korean language speak, right?
(Pronouns are rarely used in Korean)

Korean is an agglutinative language which means that instead of changing spelling or adding helper words to denote meaning (example: English has separate prepositions, particles, and auxiliary verbs like can/would to add meaning), suffixes are continually added with approximately one meaning per suffix.

For example, let’s look at a common phrase:
맛있겠네요

맛있 root of “to be delicious”
겠 affix that implies a guess
네 affix that implies surprise or discovery
요 affix for politeness

Your google translator will tell you this means “it’s delicious” but so much meaning is lost. The real meaning is when you see someone eating something that you have not yet tried or see a picture of food and think “wow that looks delicious”.

Apparently Klingon is also agglutinative.

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