During some time in college I guess after my memories of learning german disappeared and my interest in the martial arts I would learn Japanese. How cool that seemed at the time. I could go over to japan and continue learning martial arts, find a japanese girl to hook up with and learn a language that had a totally different alphabet that the roman alphabet a lot of us are used to.
Well again I had no access to the internet which shows you my age. I remember exactly when I got on to the net and that was 1997 and it was because of the internet connection at my job. What exciting times those were….. where before that bbs sites where you dialed up to were really the only thing you had and they were expensive. Access to the internet and watching how it’s grew has been great but resources a person has today was not available to most of us in the early 90’s.
So the pattern continued. One book which wasn’t good ….teacher that was somewhat into trying to teach the students japanese but let’s just say it didn’t last too long. I didn’t have access to japanese audio, tv, nothing back then so it was almost impossible for me to feel like proceeding.
So let’s jump a few years ahead and low and behold I’m involved with an asian woman who is half korean and half japanese. Now by this time thoughts of learning another language disappeared but after we got to the point where we to get married and it would be in korea some fluttering thoughts of whether I should try and learn korean entered my mind. Wow I would actually be going to an asian country and I must admit the thought of trying once again to learn language 2 was tempting. So go to the book store and look at the books that were available for korean and there weren’t many. I found one and went home and there in chapter one was ‘yobo say yo’ or romanized something like that. It meant Hello. Wow that was easy. Now of course since I was in a relationship with a native korean speaker I would ask how to say certain things and how to say hello is one of the first. But the wife would tell me 안녕하세요. Now that one is harder to say. So armed with ‘yobo say yo’ and I knew a few other words like ‘우유’ and ‘알았어’ we go off to korea and I say yobo say yo anytime where I needed to say hello and not a single person said it wasn’t correct. Tried to throw in some of the other words here and there but I knew nothing really. I couldn’t even read the korean script whether I understood it or not.
At some point upon return to the United States and we having bank account at a korean bank here in chicago I had the chance to go there without the wife one fine weekend and go up to the teller’s who are bi-lingual and say yobo say yo. The guy gave me a strange look and I was confused because by this time I said it pretty good. It wasn’t like he was surprised I said something to him in korean and I was pretty sure I said it very well but the teller was looking at me directly as I walked up to him and said it.
Hmmmm…..what did I do wrong? It would not be till years later I would actually learn what I had did. There was the internet by now but sites like koreanclass101.com and ajatt.com didn’t pop up till 2006 – 2007 time period. After our second trip to korea in 2006 I hadn’t learned anything except for words here and there from talking with wife or watching the occasional korean drama that I liked even though I understood basically nothing word wise.
Again is was disappointing not being able to communicate and read/write in a language after now having been there on 2 different occasions. Then koreanclass101.com started up and after a ton of internet searching it seemed to be the only one that was worthwhile. Prices were fine and after a a year or so coming back from visiting korea I started on the lessons. Here early on they would have a lesson on how to say hello and such and BAM there it was. I took the book at face value on yobo say yo as meaning hello and in the lesson they discussed it and how it really was mostly used to say hello on the phone or to get someone’s attention…..not something you would say while directly looking at another person! There it was what I had done wrong.
Everybody being very polite as not to offend me….the wife not really realizing it and just pleased that I tried to say something in korean and listening to a book (which still is in my one room somewhere) thinking it must be correct……ugghhhh.