Korean, Konglish, Korean English and dictionaries/translators

Students were writing dialogues or speeches for their midterm exams. One, in a dialogue, wrote ‘ailain’. I asked ‘What is that?’ and she replied ‘/aɪlaɪn/’. (Looking at it, in an English sentence, I would have pronounced it /eɪleɪn/.) ‘I said ‘How do you spell ‘eye’ in English? How do you spell ‘line’ in English?’. ‘Oh’, she said, then wrote it correctly. I had not previously encountered 아이라인 in Korean, but apparently its well-established among female university students and online. (I would probably also say ‘eyeliner’ (if I even had occasion to), but I’ll go with ‘eyeline’.)

Maybe the same student had a sentence ‘I used to be cremated’. The lesson had already finished and the student was on her way out the door, and I wanted to be, too, so all I could say was ‘That is not the word you want. Please check that.’ I can’t think of any synonym of ‘cremated’ which would make sense in any dialogue any of my students in that class would write. It might possibly crop up in a dialogue, speech or writing about ‘A day at the beach’: ‘I used to get (sun)burned’. I hope I can track down that student and get to the bottom of that. [update Tues 26th – I’ve found more information online, but haven’t seen that student again. I won’t post anything more until I have. update Thurs 28th – for more about this, see here]

In another class, a student was checking a word in a dictionary/translator. I always like to find out what they are looking for, in case I can relate it to the vocabulary list for the lesson, or give tips on how to use it. The word was ‘enchorial’, which I have never encountered, but which I figured the meaning of by the two synonyms ‘indigenous’ and ‘native’. I said to him ‘Don’t use that word [enchorial], it’s just not usual, natural English’. [update Thurs 28th – I’ve mentioned this word to two colleagues, who have not known it and not been about to guess at what it means. By the way …]

At the end of the class, just to get them up and active, I wrote names of countries down the side of the board, and ‘city’, ‘famous place’, ‘famous person’, ‘animal’, ‘food’, ‘clothes’, ‘word’ (one of the topics in the first half of the book is ‘Other cultures’). Next to ‘Italy’, one student wrote ‘Roma’. Roma is perfect Italian and perfect Korean, but ‘Roma, Italy’ is incorrect English, even though I understand it. The only ‘Roma’ in an English class (or at least my English class) are the Italian football team, the (mainly) European people and the small town in Queensland (which I’ve just found out wasn’t named after the Italian city).


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