The problem? Korean has no "R" or "L" sounds, rather one phoneme that's somewhere in between the two (which is rather hard for foreigners to acquire). Thus, they have difficulty hearing whether a word has an "R" or "L" sound in English. What was she trying to say? Irish coffee. Try saying "Irish" with an "L" sound, and indeed, it's very close to "eyelash." Fortunately, last week we were learning the names of countries and nationalities - Korea/Korean, America/American, etc., so it was easy to explain Ireland/Irish.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Cream and Sugar? Eyelash?
A few months ago, I might not have understood her. But, as I study Korean and learn to recognize more "English" words that have been adapted to Korean phonetics, I'm understanding more. My adult beginner class was learning how to describe people - hair color, eye color, etc. They wanted to know the words for "eyebrow," "eyelashes," if there was a special word for hair on one's arm, and so on. So far so good. Then one of them has a flash of comprehension, or so it seems. She exclaims, "Ah, eyelash coffee!" For an instant I'm puzzled, then I understand and cannot control my laughter. They join me, but have no idea what's so funny.