It was such a fascinating day linguistically. (Let’s not dwell on the fact that I haven’t written on this blog for almost a year. But, let’s just move on, since I have lots of jibber-jabber to share, shall we?)
I had the first book club meeting for the Surrendered this morning. Among many things that we talked about, it caught my attention how some of us found Lee’s perspective distant because the experience of the Korean War was written in English. I actually thought it felt so personal because it was described from the perspective of an ordinary person, an 11-year-old girl of all, and not from that of soldiers.
Then I also mentioned what bothered me more was really author’s failure to use the correct 호격조사 for Hee-soo. The 호격조사 for Hee-soo should be ya but he used na as if the name was Hee-soon instead of Hee-soo. Then SY mentioned the orthography of June was strange too. She said she wondered why it was June instead of Joon or Jun, which are more common spellings for the Korean name 준. But I actually thought that might be an intentional device since June does live across two locales and two languages. So June was never meant to be 준 and it was supposed to be just June when the author imagined the character.
After the book club meeting, we went out to get a haircut and on the train, I started reading Canagajah’s Translingual Practice. As I was reading about the codemeshing of English and Arabic, I thought about how I wanted to use the expression ‘en carne propia’ when I was writing the reflection essay about the depiction of the Korean War in chapter 1 of the Surrendered. When I was writing “as if I experienced the war myself”, I actually wanted to write ‘en carne propia’ instead of myself, not because my Spanish was so good but because out of all the expressions that I know in all the languages I know, the expression ‘en carne propia’ seemed to be the most accurate one to convey what I wanted to say.
Reflecting back all these different linguistic incidents, I was telling Jason I was intellectually ‘aroused’. Then, he responded back to me, saying “you are intellectually stimulated”. Then I disagreed. I said “Yes, I am intellectually aroused. I know the connotation the word ‘arouse’ has and also the fact that intellectually stimulating is a more natural collocation for you but what I am feeling right now is closer to ‘intellectually aroused’, than simply ‘stimulated’, however that sounds to you.” I am less likely to be this adamant about my choice of words in English on normal days but since I am reading Canagarajah’s book and am more and more drawn to the concept of ELF (English as a ligua franca) as of late, I was able to object and in a way, negotiate the meaning.
Then again, this brought me back to the wrong 호격조사 Lee uses in the Surrendered. At first, I thought it was a clumsy mistake on the part of the author and the editors but after all this, I wondered if it was a conscious choice to leave the mistake as is. Maybe I’m just overthinking it, but the mistake did throw me off. Because the author was a Korean American whose name is Korean, I was expecting that he’d have a better understanding of Korean language. So maybe it was intentional, probably not the mistake itself but the decision not to correct the mistake. Maybe it was his way to rebel whatever assumptions his readers might have about him. I mean, I don’t know. This is all in my head.
Now that I am reading this, these are some serious brain dumps. But it was a linguistically fascinating day for sure and it is good to be back to writing on this blog.