레스도랑

IMG_20160707_231053_171

Translation: Wait for it…

“Tim, can I ask you to do one favor for me before I leave?” Class was ending and everyone, including my teacher and myself, were packing up. “Can you just say it one more time?”

“What, ‘레스도랑?”

“Yes,” teacher giggles as she falls back into her chair laughing.

“Here, I’ll throw in a ‘정크 푸드’ and ‘치즈’ for good measure too.”

Poor teacher’s practically catatonic now.

Our unit this week involved locations. One of which, restaurant, has two terms. One, used for Korean restaurants, is 식당. Nothing really special there. The other though, the aforementioned 레스도랑, introduced Konglish. See, my teacher tried to explain/translate 레스도랑 as a simple ‘restaurant,’ and, on the surface, it makes sense. ‘레스’ translates to “res,” “도” breaks down into “do” with a door intonation, so not too far off… And then, and then it all falls apart.

Now I don’t know if my teacher was just trying to not bring Konglish into our discussions, or if Koreans honestly mispronounce their own spelling of what is essentially their own, new version, of a word. But “랑” is not “rant.” The “ra” is there, but “ㅌ” and sometimes “ㄷ” make our “t” sound. “ㅇ,” when placed at the end of a syllable, makes a “ng” sound. Meaning “레스도랑,” though well intentioned, will always translate to “restaurang.” Which is as hilarious to say as it is for a native Korean to hear me say.

There’s an inherent pause at the end there, when you  have to override your brain into saying a food that’s part of your natural vocabulary glaringly wrong. The tacked on “정크 푸드” and “치즈” are two others that I’ve learned that I can’t quite forget. (“Junk Poo-duhl” and “Chees-say” for those keeping track at home.) All of which kept my poor, suffering teacher in spasms of laughter.

For the record, I did have one beloved student in the past who used to say “cheese” as “chees-say” in class. Sadly, all that ever did was send me into fits of rage.

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