Sunday, August 31, 2014

how Korean chicks text

Here's a text-message exchange between me and a female friend of mine. My words are in yellow. I highlight this conversation because the friend in question has always been a bit daffy, and as is normal for us whenever we text, the conversation contains a hint of the strange. I also think this brief conversation provides a good example of feminine SMS discourse. I've "mosaicked" out my friend's name to protect the innocent.

My friend is in her thirties, so what you're seeing, above, is fairly restrained in the universe of estrogen-driven texting in Korea. Younger girls pile on even cutesier forms of Internet Korean, including a new and horrifying syllable I only recently learned: "Ggyang!!" ("꺙!!")—which, as near as I can figure it, is the Korean-cutesy equivalent of "Tee-hee," uttered in a shrill, girlish tone with one's shoulders in a high shrug, a single index fingertip placed very lightly on the lower lip, and a cocaine-powered smile upon one's face.

But note the elements of feminine discourse above. Double and triple (and quadruple) question marks and exclamation points are a sure sign of femininity, as is the classically East Asian ^^ emoticon, which represents the eyes, closed tight because one's smile is so intense. Note, too, the use of Kakao emoticons—the weeping dog, in this case. In the context of this conversation, the dog is weeping for joy because my friend hasn't yet missed my birthday.

Not able to follow the Korean? Here's a rough translation of our exchange.

FRIEND: Kevin!! Today's the end of August!! When was your birthday??

[NB: I had written a Kakao status update noting that my birthday was at the end of August. August has 31 days, so I assumed most normal people would take that to mean August 31st, as I intended.]

ME: But the end of August is tomorrow...

FRIEND: How is Dongguk University??^^ There's a famous pet shop in that neighborhood.^^

FRIEND: Oh!!!! Your birthday is tomorrow???

ME: The ambiance is good at Dongguk, but there's no instructional freedom. Still, I've heard tell that the students are really good. Yes, tomorrow I turn 45 in solar years.

FRIEND: I'm glad (weepicon). It [the date] hasn't passed yet.

FRIEND: I'll say congratulations to you tomorrow.^^ Hee hee hee~

ME: Thank you.

Weird enough for you? So my friend wanted to send birthday wishes on the wrong day, having perhaps forgotten that August has thirty-one days. (More charitably: she interpreted my Korean phrase, "end of August," to mean simply the last days of August instead of literally August 31st.) She tells me, apropos of nothing, about a famous pet store (famous pet store? really? they'd better have some pretty fucking awesome pets), then promises to contact me again with birthday wishes. Strange brew, indeed. But what's life without a little strangeness thrown into the mix, eh? Better to have daffy, loopy friends than to have no friends at all.



  1. I don't tweet, but happy birthday to you on the date God intended. Although I guess since you were born in the USA you are still a few hours away from the actual birthday.

  2. Thanks. I celebrate according to the local time zone.



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