Thursday, 11 October 2007

Konglish and wild coincidences.

so today in my business english class we started talking about brand names, and how they're such an easy yet crass way of measuring the people around us, and I suddenly had to halt the conversation and change the topic, because if we talked about brands and mob mentality and artificality and lookism and consumption for the sake of consumption or the appearance of wealth any longer, I'd have gotten upset.

it was a strange sensation. i didn't realize just how visceral my reaction really was to that topic.

This story made me happy.
Korea has an embarrassingly poor track record on conservation issues -- a marsh that hosts a nearly extinct butterfly is scheduled to be bulldozed for an apartment block in a suburb of Seoul. Asking ships to reroute for the sake of a whale makes me proud to be a Canadian.

What makes me sad to be a Canadian is the fact I missed turkey dinner this year. There was gonna be a turkey dinner in Seoul for Canadian expatriates, but it was cancelled due to lack of interest, leaving me jonesing for turkey and such, but unable to get my fix.

I got some new shirts, and so had to retire my two least-frequently-worn shirts.

This one's a Konglish shirt -- the words on there aren't Korean, but they aren't English either. I don't know what to make of them, except that it must be either really easy, or really hard, to get SO close to making sense that everybody frowns and shakes their heads, yet still not making any sense at all.

I want to open a T-shirt shop in Canada where I import shirts like this

In Korean they are an earnest attempt to cash in on "english characters look cool"; in Canada, captions like this:
would be ironic and hilarious, don't you think?

Any theories as to what this means are welcome!

Short story:

1984, my family moved to Woodstock Ontario, where we became family friends of the NameChangedForPrivacy's. They moved away about in 1989 or 1990, and we saw them once or twice again after that -- not much.

Then, out of the blue, I got an e-mail from their youngest daughter, Kelly (whom I remembered as a five-year-old with way too much energy). She'd graduated university and wanted advice on getting a job in Korea. I gave her tips and we've written the odd message back and forth.

Well on Saturday, I ventured out to a drum festival in Han River Park (cool) and near the end, I stumbled into a group of Canadians (plus one brit). We chatted, and I noticed something odd about one of the girls, that I wasn't sure enough to comment upon. Something in the shape of her eyes, her body language, and especially her pronounciation and intonation of certain words and phrases seemed. . . familiar.

I heard one of her friends address her as Kelly, and I thought I'd try it out.

"You're Kelly NameChangedForPrivacy, aren't you?"

"You're Rob."

It was pretty wild. A weird mix of familiarity (her brother was my best friend for a year or two, and, after all, we'd hung out back when we were four and nine), and whatever word's the opposite of familiarity -- after all, we hadn't seen each other since probably about 1992. Maybe like your first time meeting the cousin whose picture's been on your fridge all your life. Really interesting. But totally cool. She seemed happy to meet me -- she even mentioned one of the rants on this blog, so I know she'll read this. Hi Kelly! Tell the other NameChangedForPrivacy's I send my greetings.

Cool to see her.


Roboseyo said...

thanks for the input, Sarah.

didn't know you came by to visit here.

Deb said...

Hi Kelly - you look different than when you were three...I know I shouldn't be surprised by that, but I am.

Enjoy Korea...