One of the hardest parts of learning a foreign language
is making it domestic
having the words taste the same as they do in my native English
I can taste steak stronger than I can taste sutayki cause I don’t speak Japanese
so the words are insipid on my tongue
and sure I know 1000 words or more in Korean
but I can only parrot them
sure, I know how to say ‘please stop making noise with your gum’
but I have no idea which word means what
I learned it as a phrase to survive the back of their taxis
(is it a rule in the country of South Korea that all taxi drivers must make as much sound with their gum as humanly possible?)
so I learned how to say: gum sori jum nae-ji ma-la ju-say-yo
but I don’t really know what it means
but I know it seems to work to get taxi drivers to take it easy on their gum.
I lived in Korea for two years
I tried to learn the language
my Korean is at the level of a two year old
I can more than goo-goo ga-ga with you in Korean
but, don’t expect me to carry a conversation on Kafka.
Some of the first things I learned was how to say: like, hate, love
so I said: I love milk and my teacher looked at me like I was crazy
I said it again, I love milk. I love baseball, I said.
You love milk?
The teacher looked at me like I was raving maniac
sure, I said. It’s delicious, I love it.
You can’t love milk in Korean.
Why not, I love it in English.
You don’t love things in Korean. You like them, you don’t love milk.
It sounds weird to say I love milk? I ask.
We only use love for our family or boyfriend- girlfriend. You don’t love milk in Korean.
And right off the bat I liked the Korean language.
It taught me the ridiculous exaggeration of English
everyone exaggerates way too much all the time.