There’s a well-known gesture among our peers here, known as the “expat X”. Take your hands, make two fists, then cross your forearms into an X. See, you’re catching on pretty quick! Whenever you need to tell a Korean no, this is what you do. That is, until you start your Korean lessons and learn an appropriate way to say no: aneeyo, written 아니요.
My lovely Vanna demonstrating the “expat X”
We are three lessons in, and though we have been primarily working on learning the Korean alphabet called Hangeul, I wanted to share some verbal tidbits with you:
1. 돼지 두마리 있어요 // dwae-ji du-mali ee-soy-yo
I have two pigs.
This started out as our tutor trying to teach us how to say “I have two arms”… or a laundry list of other nouns that we “have”. She likes to incorporate the dogs into our language learning, so somehow, this all twisted into “I have two pigs,” while pointing at the dogs. We thought it was quite hysterical. Not so sure the tutor felt the same.
Sleeping in their pig pen.
2. 사랑해 // sa-rang hey-o
To teach this phrase, our tutor referenced that awesome song that plays on repeat in Home Plus (the grocery store). It’s a little jingle that goes “Sa-rang heyyyy-o”… “sa-rang heyyyy-o”… and I don’t know the rest of the words.
Confession: I heard this song so much but couldn’t understand the words that I just started singing to myself “Galileo, Galileeee-o”… can you tell I was a math major in college? I digress. This is not a reference to an ancient scientific scholar, but rather an expression of pure emotion: I love you. Now I will imagine that they are singing “Oh dear customer, how I love you…” And then I’ll start singing “I love you” to random people in the grocery store. Definitely useful when they block the entire aisle with their cart or just stop in front of you to look around aimlessly. Or to eat a sample.
3. 론 and 레몬 // meh-lon and leh-mon
That fruit I don’t really like and one of my kitchen staples. Guess it yet? Melon and lemon. These go right along with “ki-WI”, and “oh-ran-GEE”.
Image from www.raulfornell.com
4. 진짜?! / JINJA?! (Just jinja when you’re not screaming it at someone.)
“Really?!“, or, “for real?!”
This is what I wanted to say to the people who came to clean up our old apartment after the big move day. We still had a bunch of stuff over there to move since the moving company decided not to help us with it all (that’s a story and a half for another time). So, when we went back to retrieve it, the place was reorganized, and all of our things that were still in the apartment were piled into humongous boxes, including my underwear. Lying on top of pantry items. Some strange person that I don’t know has now touched a bunch of my underwear. JINJA?? JINJA?!
Our stuff thrown in a giant box. Though this one has terrible lighting, I’m sparing you the picture with my bra in it.
If you want a funny lesson in exactly how to use jinja, click here.
5. ㅓ and ㅡ // “ough” and “ugh”
These aren’t so much words as they are sounds, more specifically vowels, that are common in Korean but virtually non-existent in English. Take the word “cough”, and get rid of the “c” and the “f” sounds. You’ve got the first one, ㅓ. Now, open your mouth to say “ugh” but leave off the “gh”… and you sound sort of like a caveman. If so, you’re doing right. That’s ㅡ, the second one. Our tutor says these are the hardest sounds for foreigners to emulate. She knows what she’s talking about.
(P.S. Koreans have it hard with English too, there are no “f” or “v” sounds in Korean.)
6. 안녕히 계십시오 and 안녕히 가십시오 // ahn-yeong-hee gyay-say-yo and ahn-yeong-hee gah-say-yo
Goodbye, and goodbye. Tricky, right?
Ever have trouble deciding whether to say “goodbye”, “catcha later”, or “peace out, girl scout”? Don’t worry, in Korean, they have rules for which one to use. The former is used when you are leaving and the other person is staying (or if you’re both leaving). The second one is when you are staying and someone is leaving you. They sound so similar it’s difficult to remember, but we’re getting there.
There you have it, you’ve learned some Korean! Now want to go grocery shopping with me? I bet I could use all 6 phrases. Maybe if I tell the cashier about my pigs.