Thursday, 21 May 2009

Micheal Breen Rules

His latest column at The Korea Times is a must-read.

Go read why using English well/properly/adequately for the situation is pucking dippicult for Koreans.

It begins this way:

"If you are Korean and reading this newspaper, your English must be quite good, certainly gooder than most people.

But how about your spoken English? Is it also well good? Or are you hard when you speak English?
" and gets better.

Go read it.

Also: some guy digitally combined over a dozen of the handsomest Korean stars and created this composite. What say you, readers? Is this the ideal Korean man?

14 comments:

Eujin said...

I don't know. I think he's taking the piss a bit in the first three paragraphs. A sort of in-joke amongst native speakers that a lot of Koreans reading it won't get, and if they do get it, have every right to take offence. They're trying hard to brush up on their English by reading the KT for 30 minutes on the train home and he's mocking them in that oh so British way. Someone must've pissed him off.

John Huer's fair game. He deserves it. But the average Korean English learner doesn't. If anyone can explain to me why they do, then I'm all ears, but they'll have to do better than "Oh lighten up Eujin, can't you take a joke?"

Eujin said...

OK, one possible explanation is that he's trying to show that you don't need to speak perfect English to speak comprehensible English. If that is his point (and I'm skeptical) he ought to make it clearer.

Stafford said...

I dunno, with long hair it would look like quite a cute girl

Marilyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marilyn said...

Most of the men it's based on (I read the article) are more handsome than the composite itself, I think. Also the article says there's a female version - anybody seen it? I bet it has double eyelids.

pothead said...

there is this strange culture in korea where the media tries to fag up the image of an ideal Korean male, and the stupid school girls across the country eat it up with a spoon (no offense to gays out there. i support gay rights even though i'm not too crazy about homosexuality. live n let live, i say). whatever happened to "ruggedly handsome"?

Roboseyo said...

Pothead: Next time, please try to express yourself on my comment board without using words like "fag".

Thanks!

therubycanary said...

The ideal Korean man looks a little "soft" to me.

Roboseyo said...

Eujin, a lot of Koreans recognize these common mistakes, too: they've probably all been corrected too often...but they crop up again and again because students are thinking in Korean instead of thinking in English, and/or because English IS pucking dippicult!

On the other hand, when you look at the entire article, Breen demonstrates quite a lot of sympathy for the plight of English learners, and I think in that context, the intro could be seen as standing together with English learners and sighing, "man, English is hard" rather than as an arrogant mocker, lording his English superiority over Koreans. I regularly remind my students that English is crazy and illogical and sometimes stupid, and it's as hard for me to teach all these silly exceptions to the rules as it is for them to learn and apply them. We can pull out our hair in frustration together.

Eujin said...

Thanks for your reply Roboseyo. I always appreciate your thoughtful responses. I agree with you that the rest of the article contains nothing to fault him for. Just the first three paragraphs. The article would contain the same information content if he'd just left out the first three paragraphs, which still read to me like a dig at people struggling through the paper. It's a bit like writing an article about dyslexia and deliberately sprinkling it with misspelled words.

Most egregious example, "Or are you hard when you speak English?" I'm sure you could offend quite a lot of people with that. He's a native speaker, he knows what it means. And if he didn't think about its double meaning he should be more careful.

By the way, your students might be amused to read the wikipedia article "Hardest language". They should be glad they're not being asked to learn Fula, Luo or Cree.

Roboseyo said...

Interestingly, Eujin, I once read an article exactly like the one you described: an article about dyslexia sprinkled with word-order jumbles and spelling mistakes, and the purpose of the exercise was to generate compassion and understanding for whose who suffer from dyslexia.

Eujin said...

And was the author known to be a sarcastic wise-ass? (I like to think of myself as a sarcastic wise-ass, sometimes it's like I can't help it, but it gets me into trouble often enough, and deservedly so in most cases.)

However, if no Koreans feel offended by Breen's article I guess he gets away with it. It's just me, and some crazy guy on the comments section of the Korea Times. So no harm done.

Roboseyo said...

Korea Times Commenters, huh? That's about as reliable a source as candle-guerillas for level-headed dialogue about relevant issues.

Eujin said...

Yes, I was tempted to join in, but managed to resist the temptation.