Posted by: rbbadger | September 2, 2010

Tomato Savings Bank

There is a bank in Korea known as the Tomato Savings Bank.  Their motto seems to be so far “Let’s Love”.  Given the subtleties of language, one might want to be very careful in using the word love.

One of the funniest were the ads for Mr. Pizza.  Mr. Pizza is a fine chain.  We’ve ordered from them before for our kindergarten birthday parties.  (They even have sweet potato and corn as available toppings, a sadly common occurrence here.  I don’t like sweet potatoes in the least!)  Anyhow, for a while, their motto was “Love for women”.  One could interpret that a number of ways!

Korea now has a number very good English speakers.  If anything, Koreans tend to speak English better than the Japanese do.  However, I must say that Japanese Immigration officials tend to speak English very, very well.  (And they are very, very strict, too!)  However, Engrish, or in this case Konglish is still very much with us. 

I was once at the DMZ with a large number of Japanese tourists.  In fact, I was the only non-Asian person there that day.  Joining me in the English-speaking tour group were a couple of Korean-Americans.  They were US citizens, so they could go to the DMZ.  Ordinary civilians of the Republic of Korea are not permitted to go up there without government permission.  We had two tour guides, one for the Japanese and the other for the English speakers.  I heard a few of the Japanese practicing English with each other, but they were not really eager to interact with any of the English speakers.  From my experience, I find that if the Koreans know some English, they are by and large eager to practice.  I’ve had many encounters on the subway where someone just wanted to talk in English.  But I’ve never had that experience in Japan. 

By and large, Japan has funnier misuses of English than Korea does.  And to be fair, the Japanese have much greater hurdles in learning English than Koreans do.  There are thousands of possible syllables in English.  In Korean, there are only about 1,800.  In Chinese, there are about 400, that is if you exclude the five tones of Mandarin Chinese.  But in Japanese, there are no more than maybe 120 possible syllables which is why McDonalds becomes Makadonarudo and why Starbucks becomes Sutabakkusu.  But even Korean has its moments.  One of our teachers at school teaches mostly in Korean.  When the Beijing Olympics was going on, she was asking me about an American swimmer named Pelpuhsuh.  It took a while for me to understand that she was talking about Michael Phelps.



  1. pelpuhsuh! ha ha haaa!

  2. Now you understand my struggles! Korean lacks an f,v, and z as well. And yes, there are problems with getting the students to pronounce r correctly. We have the lice vs. rice problem. Sometimes, the f becomes an h. Mostly, it becomes a p. “OK class, repeat after me. Fish.” “Pishy”. There is a bar/grill chain here known as the Fish & Grill. In Korean, it is the Pishy and Geurill. You also can’t end syllable in an sh sound or an end s sound. So students are always adding extra syllables all over the place. Still, it can’t be as bad as teaching Japanese children. I don’t even WANT to know what teachers there have to deal with.

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