Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Transporter

Learning English is quite popular in Korea, not least because some proficiency in the language is required to enter university, irrespective of the course of study. Hagwons can be seen on every major road, and TV channels carry teaching programmes, even if their apparent attempts to teach the broadest American accent I've ever heard comes across as unintentionally satirical.

Perhaps predictably, things don't always work out as expected. I watched yesterday as a someone bravely attempted teaching English by working through part of a Garfield animation programme picking out key phrases of importance to their Korean viewers. I thought the language was very advanced if not a little eccentric, but the crowning glory came as Garfield asked an alien in a bar to help his friend who was tied up on a railway track (for unclear reasons), and the alien replied, "No problem. A simple molecular dissolve should suffice". The cartoon stopped, the presenter seriously repeated some unintelligible Korean punctuated by "A simple molecular dissolve should suffice" before some more unintelligible Korean followed. A caption appeared at the bottom of the screen proclaiming in English "KEY PHRASE: A simple molecular dissolve should suffice".

So, should any Koreans ever happen to be in need of something beaming from one place to another in the style of Star Trek, and spot someone who might have such a teleportation device, they can rest assured that when that person tells them "No problem. A simple molecular dissolve should suffice", they will know that their problem is solved.

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