‘a large crap’

One class was practicing the ‘verb + infinitive’ construction. One sentence prompt was ‘I really want to’. One student wrote ‘I really want to eat a large crap’. If this had been spoken, I would have tried not to bat an eyelid, but it was written, so I couldn’t ignore it. The problem is that Korean doesn’t have voiced oral stop phonemes (eg English /b/, /d/, /g/). Some of the equivalent unvoiced phonemes become (more) voiced in certain contexts. For example, 밥 (bap – rice) has a (more) voiced sound at the beginning and a definitely unvoiced one at the end. As a result, Koreans speaking English are more likely to use an unvoiced sound at the end of a word than a voiced one; hence ‘crap’ instead of ‘crab’. Once I’d explained all this as simply as I could, the student claimed that coprophagia (sensibility warning) for therapeutic purposes was a traditional practice in Korea. The other students were unable to confirm or deny this.

added 20 Nov: one of my several regular readers (to whom, thanks) pointed me to this Wikipedia page, describing ‘Korean feces wine‘ (obviously, sensibility warning). This being Wikipedia, I can’t guarantee the accuracy, but it is soberly written and extensively referenced. Maybe someone is taking the piss.

later: I saw a restaurant offering Blue Crad Soup.

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2 thoughts on “‘a large crap’

  1. That took an unexpected turn. Interesting note on Korean, too: I wasn’t aware of that aspect of its phonology.
    I had a related mix-up occur as a teenager when, recounting a school exchange trip to France, I told my father we had all gone ‘out for a crêpe’ one evening. ‘For a what!?’ he said.

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  2. As I was typing this story, I was reminded of a snippet I read in the Sydney Morning Herald some time ago. A bored young women was handing out brochures for a new restaurant. Someone asked what was on the menu. She replied, ‘Crap’.

    Interestingly, I don’t say ‘crap’ to refer to excretion. I might write/say/think ‘Oh, crap’, and I sometimes refer to things as ‘crappy’.

    Today was quite cold and I had occasion to say ‘shiver’. One student stared at me, and said ‘What?!’. I said it again and he burst out laughing. I said ‘Yes, I know it sounds like “shit” and some people use it as a swear word, but it’s a real word, so stop laughing!’.

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