Thursday, June 21, 2007

What sort of English are they teaching the Koreans?

The JoongAng Daily newspaper produces a weekly supplement titled 'Think English'. It has a number of different sections including translations of recent news items and general English comprehension tests with Korean translations. (They should maybe rename it 'See English, Read Korean' but I guess it doesn't have quite the same ring to it).

There is a section titled 'Real Vocabulary', contributed by Kenny Kim, which consists of six sentences with multiple choice options to fill in the blanks for the missing words. Each week I look at it and spot at least one grammatical error or nonsensical sentence. Two weeks ago he set a record with five out of six sentences having at least one problem. My copy of the newspaper has now been recycled and sadly they do not seem to archive that section of the paper on the web, so I cannot share with you his mistakes.
Last Saturday's issue was a welcome change when I could not find any mistakes in that section. Well done Kenny, keep it up, I'll be checking back next week.

What did catch my eye though, was on the next page in the 'Fun Fun' section: [Readers who are offended by four letter words should NOT click to enlarge on this scan below]

scanned section of JoongAng daily Think English
Well I certainly wasn't expecting that type of language in a family newspaper. Can anyone translate the article please? I am fascinated to know what advice they are giving.

Perhaps the Think English staff have been to Itaewon, The westerner's ghetto area in Seoul, seen the name of this shop, and thought it a perfectly acceptable word to discuss?

Or maybe they've been watching the TV show Six Feet Under where the characters swear in almost every other sentence.

Meanwhile the Korea Times 'The Learning Times' supplement recently translated a dialogue from the movie The Devil wears Prada, underneath the headline 'Good Will Hunting'. I wonder if anyone noticed?


Anonymous said...

it says that in england, the equivalent curse to fucking is bloody

daeguowl said...

To give more context:

"If Americans say "fucking" what do english people say?"

The swear word most often used by British people is "bloody".

There was one incident where Prince Charles used the word "bloody" in public that is quite famous. It was right after he got remarried.

He had gone skiing in Switzerland with CPB and his two sons.

While posing for photographers he mistakenly thought that his microphone had been switched off and said to his sons "Bloody people! I hate these bloody guys (korean translation of same sentence).

Therefore he was criticised for using such a vulgar expression. "Bloody" is about 70-80% as strong as "fucking" and is used often by British people and corresponds to "젠장" (Damn) or "X발" (F***!). You can often hear "bloody" used instead of "fucking" in English movies.

Interesting to note that they are quite happy to print "fuck" several times but wimp out at printing the korean equivalent.

Jon Allen said...

Thanks Anonymous and Daeguowl for the full translation.

I would rate the 'f-word' as a far stronger curse than 'bloody'.

You would very very rarely see the f-word printed in an English newspaper, but maybe with the proliferation of it's use on TV and in the movies it will eventually lose it's shock value.

Brillig said...

I wonder if it will lose it's shock value--I've contemplated that too.

SO funny, by the way! I love the things expats stumble upon in their travels.

Ms. Richardson Schell said...

I am an American who is personally acquainted with this Mr. Kim in question. I have tried to help him with his English but apparently I’ve failed. If you would like to e-mail him personally you may do so:

Jon Allen said...

Well done Elizabeth for trying!

Those sections by him do seem to have improved after I posted this item.