February 5, 2010 | Korean

Word (Dis)Order

After years of ordering words a certain way, I take a while to get used to completely new sentence patterns.

Today I had an appointment with my internist. I walked there through Central Park, past the reservoir, and past lots and lots of ducks.

When I arrived at my doctor’s office, I was blown away by a sign in the waiting room indicating a remarkably robust array of language interpreting services. I’d never seen anything like it before.

Ducks Wintering in Central Park

Language Interpreting Service, My Doctor's Office

I confess, I am not yet feeling connected to Korean. Among other things, the word order hurts my brain a little.

Although I am not really understanding the basis for the grammar of the Pimsleur sentences I have been learning, I can at least pick up some trends, which is that by English standards, Korean word order is often backwards. So, for example, instead of “I speak a little Korean,” the word order is “Korean little I speak.” My brain is specifically hardwired not to do that.

Switching things around is probably good for me, though.

I recently got an e-mail from the young Korean woman I met on the floor of Barnes & Noble at 66th Street—the one I helped with her English essay. I hope she won’t mind my printing her e-mail if I don’t put her name.


My name is [deleted].
Do you remember me? :D
We met in Library.
Nice to meet you ~
Today I have a presentation to assay !!
because your cheak~! ^^
Oh, see you~


I don’t know what she was trying to say towards the end there, but I was utterly charmed by the message.

Comments (2)

Katherine • Posted on Thu, June 03, 2010 - 11:57 am EST

My guess is she wanted to say “I presented my essay today.  It went well because of your corrections!”

Ellen Jovin • Posted on Thu, June 03, 2010 - 2:58 pm EST

Thanks! I think you’re probably right. That’s more or less what my husband thought, too. I couldn’t see it at first.

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