Second language using

A few weeks ago my wife and hosted an end-of-year dinner/social time for some Korean couples and their children. At one point I was pouring a drink for one of the men. I said “얼마나?” (eol-ma-na? how much?) and my wife’s friend’s burst out laughing. I finally asked her about this two nights ago and she said “They think your speaking is so cute”. 

I would like to speak Korean better than I do – preferably fluently but enough to actually talk to people would be a good start. But people laughing whenever I say one word, or saying that my speaking is cute, is not going to help me. I’ve asked her to tell them not to do it. Whether she has or hasn’t, they still do.

The next day she and some friends went … I thought to a friend’s house, but in the middle of the evening I got a text message saying “I am Roxy”, which was a bit of a mystery until she added a photo of her with the Sydney Opera House in the background. Oh … “I am in The Rocks” (the historical part of Sydney opposite the opera house and under the Sydney Harbour Bridge). The Rocks might be translated 이/그/저 바위들 but is more often transliterated 더 록스 (deo rok-seu). Roxy, the girl’s name, would usually be transliterated 록시 (for example in Korean Wikipedia’s page for the movie Chicago

Putting aside the different spelling, there are other differences between the English sentences “I am Roxy” and “I am in The Rocks” and the Korean “(나는) 록시 입니다” and “(나는) 더 록스에 있습니다”. English uses the same verb and in before the location (The is part of the name; compare “I am in Sydney”). Korean uses a different verb and 에 after the location. 

Yesterday she spent some time preparing photo montages of her/our year to post on her Korean hiking group’s chat page. Among a lot of Korean were the English words Roxy and Rockdown (viz, Lockdown). 

My wife and I face different challenges learning and using English and Korean respectively, partly because of the differences between the languages, partly because of our language learning styles and partly because of the contexts in which we use it. She makes more mistakes because she uses English more than I use Korean. 

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