Thursday, December 07, 2006
The Mexican Asks the Korean
Why do Koreans repeat "Annyong Haseo!" when someone greets them with "Annyong Haseo!" Isn't it redundant? And how does the meaning change?
Salsa, the Mexican Brother of Kimchi
The Korean would like to tell the readers that you are Gustavo Arellano, columnist for OC Weekly who is known for writing the insightful and hilarious !Ask A Mexican! If it was not obvious so far, Ask A Korean was directly inspired by the Mexican's work. Click the link to !Ask A Mexican! on the right and check it out yourselves. Welcome to the show, Mexican.
As to the question - don't gabachos say "hello!" to "hello!" as well? That's kinda redundant too, ?que no? But I can see where you're coming from. Every time I say "!Buenos dias!" to a Mec-jahk (derogatory Korean term for Mexicans; could be just an LA Korean American thing,) they always reply "Pinche chino."
(If you don't get that, go to !Ask A Mexican! and check out the glossary.)
"Annyong Haseo" is actually a question - it literally translates into "Are you well?" Let me ask you this, Mexican: don't you hate it when you have to perfunctorily say "I'm good" before you can ask back "How are you?", while fully knowing that the answer would be also "I'm well"? If you had noticed, Koreans did not rise from the ashes of the Korean War into the shining star of Asia for no reason. Korean folks are efficient people; they realized the inefficiency of saying the answer to "are you well?", so they just stopped saying it. The meaning does not change when the question is repeated.
It gets better. Koreans say "Annyong Haseo" only when they wish to be polite, usually toward an older person. When Koreans greet their peer, they simply say "Annyong," and the reply is also "Annyong." Again, this is a question - "Good?" "Good?" How efficient is that?
In Korean the polite form of "Good bye" is "Annyong-hee Gaseo." ("Go well.") The informal form is, again, "Annyong." So often Koreans will say "Annyong" twice whenever they meet; once to greet, once to say bye. And only the inefficient crackers will find that confusing. That's why Asian cars are kicking American cars' ass around the block.
Got a question or comment for the Korean? Ask away at firstname.lastname@example.org.