갈 샌 이에요

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(Translation: It is brown.)

This week was all about colors. All seven of them. Or five of them if you don’t count black and white as actual colors. (I usually don’t; please see the Beastie Boys’ “Namaste” for the reason why.)

Now one challenging aspect this week was the class quiz. Mainly how I’m quizzed shortly after learning the new vocabulary. (I was given five minutes to learn these seven words plus three new verbs and three phrases.) What does one do when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds? Break out the old word association trick!

검은 샌 – “black” (com-un sek); was my the first association. Black shirts are painfully common amonst metal/punk rock fans, and hence the natural association.

파란 샌 -“blue” (par-ran sek); another easy one. My eyes are blue. I have parents. 파란’s syllabic breakdown almost matches that of parents making this a no brainer. Anyone without blue eyes will have to figure out their own.

간 샌 – “brown” (kal sek); my most amusing association. We had a belief at Target about what the ultimate call-out illness was. And without question it was diarrhea. You can’t control it, no one else wants to be around it (or share a bathroom with someone with it), and its essentially untraceable. If you call out and claim to have the flu, everyone’s going to think back to your last shift and try to remember if you seemed sick. All this condition needs is one piece of undercooked meat and you’re well on your way to food posioning! So “call sek” quickly became “call (in) sick.”

흰 색 – “white” (heem sek); was the outlier. The one word I couldn’t think of an associative link to, thus making it special in its own right. (For the record, I wasn’t ignoring 빨간 샌 (red), 노란 색 (yellow), or 녹 색 (green) on purpose, but I only had five minutes, which was just enough time to conjure up the four I had.

I also had my own “Who’s On First?” moment at work the following day. While reading through my Korean book, I saw a grammar rule pertaining to (basic) sentence creation. Namely, if you attach “이에요” or “예요” after an adjective, you’ll get “It is ____.”

Which is perfect, something eminently useful that I sussed out on my own! (Granted, there was a huge assist coming from the book. But I worked out the mechanics on my own.) So naturally I wanted to double-check my work at work today with our Korean teacher. To see if I was as smart as I was feeling.

Which is where we enter the “Who’s…” territory. Since I was unsure about my findings, I naturally asked the Korean teacher if “파란 색 이에요” means “It is blue.” The reply was that it was “Is it blue?” because the intonation given by me was one of a question. Starting the long unraveling process as I tried to explain that my question was intended as a statement, only sounding unsure because I wasn’t sure whether I was doing everything correct.

As you can imagine, the whole thing was as funny as Abbott and Costello’s original (boring) skit. To me, at least, as I think the Korean teacher found it all amusing.

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