Thursday, June 05, 2008

There are few Finns in Korea (despite what you may have heard)

A Geek in Korea wrote about a constant mangling of the English language:

If I have a pet peeve these days, it’s students that can’t pronounce the word “Finished.” Because of Koreans pronunciation of most words mangling the ending consonant, the word usually sounds like “Finnishee”, or at other times “Finnish”.

Down here in Geoje, the the variant phrase I usually hear is, "I am Finnish!"

When they say this, I must ask, "You are Finnish? Wait, I thought you were Korean!"finland-korea

I was so confused by the number of students insisting they were Finnish, that I did some investigating.  First piece of evidence is the fact that the Embassy of Finland occupies only a few offices in an office building in Seoul--nothing to suggest a large Finnish presence in South Korea.

Then, I contacted the Finnish Embassy in Seoul.  According to Susanna Jacqueline:

our estimate is that there are about 90 Finns living in South-Korea


Only about 90 Finns living in Korea?  Huh.  As much as I am inclined not to trust someone with two first names (Susanna Jacqueline), her numbers make sense.  There's only about 5 million people in Finland, compared to about 60 million in Korea.  Those Finns can't spread themselves too thin or there won't be any left back home to hold down the fort.

So, when my students say that yes they are Finnish, I pretty much sure they are lying. 


...then, I'm a little sad because I've become THAT teacher. You know that teacher whom, when you ask if you can use the bathroom, they ask, 'I don't know can you?'

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