Thursday, August 03, 2017

what's wrong with this picture?

Spot the error below. As Lennon might say, it's easy if you try.

The above poster sits in the hallway that leads to my office. The same hallway leads to a suite of several classrooms, and it's often full of students waiting to go to class. I guarantee that not a single student has noticed the gaffe on the poster... and if a student were to notice the mistake, I sincerely doubt he or she would lose any sleep over it.

It's embarrassing to work for a company whose very lifeblood is the promulgation of correct English, only to see posters—on company grounds, no less—that feature embarrassingly boneheaded typographical errors. And why do such errors appear? Because people in this country don't fucking care enough to proofread. It's a common lament among expats that we could make a killing doing proofreading for Korean ads and other materials in English... were it not for the fact that no one here actually gives a rat's ass about the quality of the English that appears on posters, brochures, commemorative plaques, museum displays, etc.

Korea is paradoxical that way. On the one hand, the country cares intensely about its global image and is constantly worrying about how others perceive it. On the other hand, the country continues to act in ways that show it cares little or nothing at all for what the rest of the world thinks. Stupid, error-filled "Engrish" is everywhere; television comedians perform racist comedy in blackface; girl groups casually flaunt their Nazi garb. It's a special form of collective insanity that makes life for us expats both interesting and frustrating.


Surprises Aplenty said...

"It's a common lament among expats that we could make a killing doing proofreading for Korean ads..."
I think that's curciculur logic. We could fix errors for big money if they were interested in spending big money to fix these errors.

Kevin Kim said...

I'm not sure how that's circulur. What I wrote wasn't meant as an argument, but for the moment, let's treat it as one:

Premise 1: Koreans crank out plenty of Engrish. (observation)
Premise 2: Expats see this Engrish and want to do something about it, i.e., proof and edit. (observation)
Premise 3: Expats want to monetize their beneficial work, i.e., proofing and editing. (assumption + observation)
Premise 4: Koreans don't care about how Engrish can damage brand image. (observation)
Premise 5: For there to be a market for something, there needs to be a demand. (axiom)

Conclusion: as there is no demand for proofing/editing services despite the obvious need for such services, it is impossible to make significant money as a proofer/editor in Korea.

Not circulur! Saying, "If only Koreans were interested in producing decent English..." is simply a way of meditating wistfully on a counterfactual.

Charles said...

It's all a big circul jerk anyway,

Kevin Kim said...

French guys will appreciate our insistence on inserting "cul" into our discourse.