어머니가 점원에게 “고맙다고” 말했어요

Translation: The mother said “thank you” to the clerk.

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One of the things that makes living in a foreign country so much fun, especially when learning the local language, is how even going to the corner convenience store (변의점; 편의점) can become an adventure.

Tonight’s trip was either great, or terrible, depending on how you want to look at it. On the one hand, I completely failed at recognizing a word that I spent a full week practicing (in this case, 고맙다 – thank you).

고맙다 is a strange word. It means “thank you,” but tonight was seriously the only time I’ve ever heard it out in the wild. (I’m not counting hearing it in my Korean textbook; which is how I learned it.) Most often you’ll hear the 감사 합니다 version of “thank you;” which is the only version I knew of for my first two years in Korea.

So tonight a mother (어모니; 어머니) was talking to the store’s clerk (가게의 학점 점원) and their conversation ended with her saying, “고맙다.” This then proceeded to drive me crazy, because I had seriously spent my entire vacation time in Japan practicing 고맙다. (Incorrectly as 고마바요, rather than the rpoper 고마워요. (읍 verb endings transform into  우 when conjugated.))

Adding to the recognition difficulties was how most temperature verbs use either -맙 or a veriation thereof. So while I waited, I was scouring my brain (“Well ‘cold to the touch’ is ‘차겁다 차갑다,’ but this wasn’t that. It wasn’t ‘뜨닷다 따뜻다’ (to be warm) nor ‘선원하다 시원하다’ (to be cool). What was it?”) until I exited the store, at which point it came to me: THANK YOU!

So like I said, I can take this two ways. On one hand, if I focus on my forgetting a word that I had practiced extensively for a week, then I’ll feel terrible. On the other hand, if I focus on the fact that I knew I was wrong, and eventually recalled the correct answer, then I’ll feel a great deal better.

And that’s the direction I’m going to allow myself to take on this.

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