Saturday, March 31, 2007

Can Michael Breen Understand Normal Thinking?

Over at Korea Times, Michael Breen gives time to possibly the most offensive word in the English language inoffensively and tops it off by using the most commonly used vulgarity no less than 5 times; again without being offensive about it. I guess it just goes to show that 'intent' behind the word is just as important (or more so) as the word itself (an fact that seems lost on some people). Unfortunately, he may have just taught the word to a few Korean students who will now walk around saying the word as if it is a natural part of their vocabulary.Those of you who teach in Korean classrooms out there can just imagine the day that you walk into a classroom and hear one student scream Mr. Breen's "C-word" across the room at another student.

God forbid that these words should somehow find their way into the common everyday Korean vocabulary like another marginally offensive phrase that I hear all to often and all too inappropriately. Case in point: the other day in class, one particularly noisy student in the front row responded to my announcement of next weeks homework with a hearty "Oh, My God!" (More like "O, Mah-ee, Gaht"). Normally, I wouldn't have flinched but he was sitting next to a NUN! I know that she probably was not as offended by its use as the Mother Superior at your local Catholic school back home would have been but I still felt the urge to whip out my ruler and give his palms a good firm public whacking. I tried to politely advise him (in Korean, to be sure he would understand) that this expression is really a 'vulgarity' and should not be used in polite speech, particularly when you are sitting next to a nun! The other students around him smacked him in the arm and used an expression that I mistakenly taught the students in jest one day:
The sister just smiled and nodded approvingly.
And I realized that at least something was getting through in my classes.

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