Tuesday, March 28, 2017

the sign

I love how the sign pictured below starts off with a bit of English as a nod to the foreigners, then neglects to convey the essential information in English. It would have been better not to have any English at all on the sign (although a sunny optimist would take comfort in knowing what the sign was about, if nothing else).

This is emblematic of how Koreans communicate: they love to talk, but with disturbing consistency, they somehow neglect to convey the most essential information. This happens all the time: a loved one has a terminal disease, but the doctor isn't forthright with the patient about his or her condition; a supervisor from another department suddenly tells your department that a project must be completed weeks earlier than first discussed; your monthly pay date gets switched without notification, and it's only when you complain that your supervisor suddenly says, "Whoops, forgot to mention the campus-wide switch in pay dates." Or this one: your date tells you to meet her at Building X, which she says is "right next to" Building Y (where you are), but it turns out that her notion of "next to" really means "you need to walk a quarter mile thataway."*

*You might argue that that last example isn't a case of neglecting essential information, but is instead a case of mistaken or incorrect information. I say that the required info went missing in that case just as much as in the other cases.


Charles said...

That is hysterical.

King Baeksu said...

In most cases in the Korean public sphere, English is used to signify sophistication and urbanity to other Koreans. Its function as a tool to communicate information to foreigners in Korea is usually an afterthought.

Kevin Kim said...

Yeah, that lone phrase definitely had an afterthought-y feel.