Thursday, September 6, 2012

Inappropriate English - Music to My Ears

A long time ago I taught English in Daegu, South Korea.  I remember walking into E-Mart – Korea’s version of Wal-Mart – about two months after I arrived.  As I strolled down the grocery aisles my ears detected something unusual.  When living in a foreign country your ears tend to hone in on familiar sounds.  The music that was playing throughout the store was in English, and perhaps a bit too loud for the backdrop of the milk and cheese section where I currently stood.  In addition, the type of music being played was extremely peculiar. It was the song, Closer, by Nine Inch Nails.

Now I don’t know if you’ve heard the song but the chorus alone is inappropriate enough not to be played throughout a public area frequented by families.  I looked around the store to see if anyone else took notice of the explicit lyrics.  You let me penetrate you.  A mother and son passed by mirthfully, pushing a shopping cart.  I want to f- you like an animal!  An elderly couple ambled over, smiled at me, and grabbed a carton of milk.  It’s your sex I can smell.  A young female E-mart employee bobbed her head to the music as she offered cheese samples to shoppers.  I want to f- you like an animal!  Nobody seemed to care about the songs profane sexual content.  They just didn’t understand.  And Daegu is a conservative area by Korean standards, so I could only imagine E-Mart patrons would have been up in arms if they knew what these lyrics meant.  Yet everyone pleasantly carried on with their shopping as if they may have been listening to the lovable lyrics of Barney and Friends. 

Comprehension of the English language is a challenge for many Koreans.  Not just listening, but reading comprehension as well.  You don’t have to look far to find inappropriate English.  Even on some of the country’s national products.  For example, there’s a food snack in Korea that’s called a Dick Stick.  It’s a cookie stick that’s covered in chocolate.  Of course some may proclaim that it’s just a name.  Why does it have to have perverted connotations?  Truth be told, it doesn’t.  But then again, why choose a name for your product that implies a double entendre?  A Dick Stick would certainly give a whole new meaning to the, ‘melts in your mouth, not in your hand,’ slogan.

Answer to Last Post:

Floccinaucinihilipilification - noun.  the act of describing something as having no value

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