Thursday, February 12, 2015


It's taken some back-and-forth on the phone with We Mae Peu ("We Make Price"), but the refund for my botched bed order is finally coming through tomorrow (Friday). The bed I had wanted was a simple one priced at W158,000; a W5,000 discount e-coupon dropped that price to W153,000 (about $139). I just found a similar bed on WMP that goes for barely W100,000 ($91), so that's what I'm going to attempt to order. I'm a bit worried: with my luck, this order, too, will somehow be jinxed, and I'll once again find myself pining for a proper bed.

Strangely enough, WMP doesn't seem to be selling the other pieces of furniture that I want in the price ranges that I want them: not the three-drawer rolling desk caddy (going for roughly W150,000 online, which is silly), nor the simple, three-level bookshelves that I need to supplement my kitchen's storage space (it's just not there in the catalog). I'm currently searching for used-furniture stores in my area (Ilsandong-gu, Shiksa-dong*); I tried to walk over to one such store last night, but the store doesn't exist—another case of un-updated information on the only occasionally trustworthy Google Maps. (It's possible that Naver Maps would be more accurate. I'll have to check that out.)

Despite the minor setbacks, though, I expect I'll be fully equipped with everything I want and need by late next week—certainly before the semester begins.

And now a declaration of linguistic annoyance: in Korean, the word for "refund" can be hwan-bul-geum, or hwan-bul, or hwan-geup. This is probably due to the highly pleonastic nature of Sino-Korean constructions, i.e., the use of redundant elements in language (e.g., when Koreans say weolyoil-lal/월요일날 for "Monday"; the il/일 and the nal/날 both mean "day," so to my ears it's a bit like saying "Monday-day").

To be fair, we have pleonasms in English: the classic example is "fall down," which is silly when you think about it because down-ness is implied in the notion of falling, although it's also true that "He fell" has a slightly different meaning from "He fell down."** (We say "He fell twenty stories," generally not "He fell down twenty stories." We also say "He fell down a flight of stairs" and not "He fell a flight of stairs.") Still, Koreans often seem cavalier when it comes to the necessity, non-necessity, or even placement of syllables; sometimes it turns out that certain syllables aren't needed at all, or that syllables can be rearranged with no damage to meaning (on that latter point, think: yeo-ha-teun or ha-yeo-teun, both of which mean something like "anyway" or "anywho/anyhoo"; another example is geum-bang and bang-geum, both of which mean "just," as in "recently": "I just visited him.").

I know that quirks and bothersome exceptions exist in all languages, but the reason for my annoyance here (and it's not a deep annoyance, so there's no reason to rush in and defend the language from my rage) is that, instead of having only one term to memorize for when I want to say "refund," I unfortunately have three.***

*If you speak Yiddish, then shiksa means something completely different from its meanings in Korean.

**Another example of a pleonasm from English is "I saw it with my own eyes." Well, duh—who else's eyes would you be using to see things? The same pleonasm exists in French: Je l'ai vu de mes propres yeux. In French, there are also pleonasms like descendre en bas (descend down) and reculer en arrière (to back up backward).

***I know—Boo-hoo, right? Up yours.


1 comment:

Elisson said...

"Shiksa-dong." Now, there's a scary thought for any Yiddish speaker.