Learning to speak another language brings opportunities. Let me share with you one story.
As I entered the Chinese restaurant, I asked the question I always ask. “Does anyone here speak Korean?” I’ve been searching for Korean speakers in the Berkshires for years now without success. The waiter shared that his Chinese girlfriend studied Korean for 7 years. Ah! I hear stories of people who know people who speak Korean often.
A set of unfortunate circumstances caused me to be without any language resources with me, not even my phone. What to do? I flipped over the place mat and practiced my alphabet words. I still have trouble remembering iron 다리미, expect ice cream to start with 이 and forget that pineapple ends with a ㄹ.
Perhaps because seeing me write Korean gave me credibility, two waitresses approached me to strike up a conversation. One is learning Spanish, the other wants to learn Korean. I asked if she could write the word for Korea in Chinese. I reciprocated by showing her how to write Korea in Hangul. I spoke of slowly learning Hanja and the book “ChinEasy”. She clucked sympathetically at the difficulty of learning Chinese pictographs.
From Naver Dictionary:
Korea (한국, 韓國) in South Korea and (조선, 朝鮮) in North Korea
South Korea (남한 南韓)
Republic of Korea (대한민국 大韓民國) ROK 略
Korean language (한국말, 韓國)
Hanja (한자, 漢字) hanja-eo (한자어, 漢字語) hanmun (한문, 漢文)
Korean people (한인, 韓人)
Sino Korean (한중, 韓中)
We had a great conversation about Korean actors, dramas, and singers. She had been to a concert in New Jersey to see Tong Vfang Xien Qi (Chinese: 東方神起). I drew a blank until she showed me a picture on her phone of TVXQ. Ah! I know them. We struggled a bit with making ourselves understood. My pronunciation of Lee Min Ho is pretty poor, but I was able to convey Heirs and City Hunter. “You From Another Star” drew blank stares until they made the connection to the Chinese name for the show.
I wrote TalkToMeInKorean.com on the back of a credit receipt for her to look at if she is interested in learning Korean. As I walked out the door, the two girls were huddled over the phone and the sound of TTMIK music played. It made me smile.
I never would have been able to start a conversation with these Chinese women without having the connection of us interested in learning languages. Small talk today made me happy.
[Resisting urge to see what Antosch & Lin Languages has to offer.] 한국어를 배우는 외국인 I’m just a foreigner who is learning Korean 🙂