A KOREAN MAN MEETS A KIKUYU

THEIR INTERESTING CONVERSATION OF HOW LANGUAGE BEGETS CULTURE.

The players of both teams matched into pitch thrasonically, probably because of their smart uniforms, each of them seeming to be convivial. For a few minutes, everything went taciturn in respect for the football anthem, but soon the whole stadium was as noisy as a menagerie .The players amicably greeted their rivals, then took their seats and made an orison before taking their positions waiting for the referee’s whistle to start the game. In no time, one team would be full of hauteur, while the other would fly back to their domiciles in melancholy without any reward, but predicting the winning team at this time was an enigma. The teams were both well prepared and confident of winning the deer trophy that they had both contributed to it purchase. It was the match between Kenya and Korea.

The match kicked off, all the players in gusto. There was pandemonium in the whole stadium. Kinyanjui from Kenya sat next to Jit Folm Park.

“Eotteohge jinae?” Jit said.

“Habari yako?”Kinyanjui rather asked having not heard what Jit said.

“Nan dangsin-ui eon-eoleul ihaehal su,”Jit responded.

“Siielewi lugha yako,”Kinyanjui said after confirming that he could not comprehend the language at all.“Nan yeong-eo malhal su,”Jit said,“yeong-eo hal jul su issseubnikka?”“Naweza zungumza Kiingereza.Can you speak English?”Kinyanjui involved his less-practicd English.

What the two new friends did not know was that they were saying the same thing but in different languages. Upon realizing this they were filled with felicity. Meanwhile,rain started falling. First it titillated in light showers that washed the sudation of the players away but later became noxious when it could not allow the match to continue.“Hey,you did not tell me your name. I am Jit Folm Park from Korea,and you?”Jit asked.“Park?I have heard of Park,might you be related?I know him,”Kinyanjui said.“Yes,he is my cousin. I am sure you are talking of Ji Sung Park,the one in the pitch,”Jit replied.“Oh,good news. I am Kinyanjui. Kinyanjui Kimanjuru,and in case of confusion you can just call me KK,”Kinyanjui who did not want to say he loved his nick name more said.“Oh!Kenyan Chui. I have seen a Kenyan Chui when I toured the game reserve. Are you named after it?”Jit asked. The rain had now become too heavy to allow any more talking. They had to go to their hotels and wait until when the match would be repeated.

Surprisingly,they met in the hotel. They had booked the same place. “The match has been postponed to tomorrow in the evening,hoping it will not be raining. That  is a good time because I will have attended all my classes. Then  I will fly back. I hope there are afternoon flights from Kenya to Pretoria,if not I will have to do on-line classes,”Jit started the new conversation.

“Sure. Where do you study?”KK asked.

“I teach. I teach in Manahaim college in Nairobi Kenya.”

“I have heard about that college.”

“Why don’t you join then?Am sure it is as much fun learning Korean as it is in teaching.”

Kinyanjui had heard about the college and had contemplated to join it. After registering, before commencing his classes, he became among the fortunate ones to win a ticket to watch the match between Kenya and Korea in South Africa. He was very determined to learn the language because other than aspiring to be multi-lingual, he very much wanted to know about the culture of the Koreans that he had always fancied watching in movies. As the chatted along, he realized that Jit was a pedagogue in the same institution. He was certain that in making friends with Jit, he was increasing his chances of learning more.   He was also happy that in case they lacked anything to talk about, they would talk about the college. He ordered for two glasses of mango juice as they sat at one of the clean tables.

“I am happy Korean studies have been introduced in Kenya.”

“I am happy Korean studies have been introduced in Kenya, ”KK repeated his statement after coughing a feigned cough and getting no answer. He wanted to know how much really knowing the language would help him in knowing the culture of the Koreans. Jit had actually heard the statement but was hesitant to answer because it would hijack his train of thoughts that he had just got his mind into. He was cogitating: how the knowledge of the Korean language in Kenya would facilitate international relations between the two countries; how so many aspects of life between the two countries would be shared and how living life would become an easy task. He knew that that would completely change the relationship between the two countries from what has been over the last few decades into a new dawn. “Oh, yes, I am sorry, I am happy as well,” he answered.

KK told Jit of his great desire in knowing the Korean culture and Jit was even willing to talk more about it. He told KK how the Korean language is used to maintain and convey the culture of the Koreans and how the implications of language are completely entwined in culture. He said that teaching a foreign language is also to teaching the paradigm of a foreign culture. He explained that as teachers they instruct their students on the cultural background of the language usage, choose culturally appropriate teaching styles and explore culturally based linguistic differences to promote understanding instead of misconceptions or prejudice. Therefore,in only attending the class,one had already started learning the culture of the Koreans and their way of living.

“You should always compare and contrast the cultural differences in language usage especially the grammatical and idiom usage in their cultural contexts between your culture and ours,”Jit said as he sipped his blended-mango juice.“I do not really see the importance of this,”KK said as he sipped his too. He was keeping pace with Jit’s the drinking of the juice. He did not want to finish earlier or later than Jit. Within himself he knew he was also learning culture in this way.“Visualizing and understanding the differences will enable you to correctly judge the appropriate uses and causation of language idiosyncrasies. You will fully understand why certain things in Korea are said,their background as well as their application in our culture,”Jit continued further. KK was attentively listening and nodding his head in approval.“For example,you have noticed that our greetings follow strict rules,one shakes hands after the common bow. Is this not different from you culture? You learn the greeting etiquette in the Korean language class and you are later to apply this practically. If you understand a difference like this one,you will fully understand the background as well as its application in our culture-a person of a lower status bows to the person of higher status but it is the senior person who initiates the handshake. The person who initiates the bow says…” “Man-na-suh pan-gop-sumnida,”KK cut in.

“Which means?”Jit asked.

KK started laughing. With this Jit knew he did not what that meant and started laughing too,not with KK but at KK.KK was a person who loved humor. He stopped laughing all of a sudden and said,“pleased to meet you,”then stated laughing again. He was right.

“Let me recapitulate all these. I have learned the greeting etiquette in your language. I have hereby known how you Koreans go about the communicational protocol when you meet. The conclusion is that I have known something about your culture regarding communication,am I right?”KK asked.

“Very!You are a good student. You can as well become a language pedagogue!”Jit said as he laughed and sipped all the remaining juice. KK did not want to look as if he was doing like Jit was doing.“That is what I am aiming at,”he said as he laughed and sipped all his juice as well,he had forgotten and done it,“if I had a mustache like yours I would teach.”Both of them laughed hysterically.“You are very hilarious,”Jit commented.“That is my talent ,”KK bragged. “Really?It must be. You see,when you have realized your talent,and you are learning the Korean language,it is true that you will put more effort in learning the language that is mostly applied in your field of interest. What am I saying,you,for example will be interested in knowing more about the language that the comedians in Korea mostly use. In this way,you will end up knowing about the cultural behavior of them. Another person will be interested in the artists,politicians,or even the business people’s language. Eventually different aspects of culture will be comprehended. Has the introduction of the Korean language in Kenya not taught the Kenyans the Korean culture?”

“It really has because all these things that you are telling me would not have been known. That is true,”Jit answered.“That was meant to be a rhetorical question,it needed no answer,”Jit said and they both started laughing. “You never told me you were a comedian,”KK complained. “I never told you I am not a comedian too,” Jit defended himself,but actually,he was not.

“Jit,but you know almost every kind of practical activity has today created a school of its own , and  created a group of specialized intellectuals of a higher level to teach in these schools. Thus, alongside the older, traditional type of schooling where everything taught was alike,don’t you think that the differences in schooling will portray aspects of culture that differ?”KK asked after thinking hard to formulate this question. He had now put his English language into full use.

“I agree. Today has seen a widespread educational crisis and this can be precisely linked to the fact that the process of differentiation and specialization in education has taken place chaotically, without clear and precise principles, without a well thought out and consciously fixed plan which has not only resulted to different modes of information delivery but actually totally different delivered information,”Jit agreed, “however the background of the teaching still remains the same,based on the same culture of the people teaching. What they learned was based on a certain culture,and fundamentally that shall pass into them and that is what they will deliver. This case in the reality does not fully apply to Korea because as you know our country is homogeneous  and in spite of having gotten different education paradigms,those who teach the  language are still from the same culture and as much as you are learning this language,the culture will be transmitted to you. In fact the mode of teaching is something to learn from. We do not teach in the same way that Kenyans teach hence this will also teach you something about our culture if you are learning our language,our way of teaching and our way of learning as from our culture is what will really be portrayed in this,”Jit continued explaining further. He had set an objective of explaining to KK how the introduction of the Korean language in Kenya was promoting the understanding of the culture of Koreans. So far he had partly achieved his objective. 

“It seems that I am not the only one interested in knowing your culture,you also want me to,”KK said.

“We are promoting the knowledge of the language very much. That is why we are even offering the  learning of the language at a price close to free at our institution. For those who perform excellently we are offering scholarships to them to go and learn more about our culture in Korea,practically. When they are equipped with the knowledge of the language they can become ethnographers in Korea. Is that not a good idea?”Jit asked.

“That is a rhetorical question,”KK replied. They both laughed to the joke,this time laughing with each other.

Dusk had already now started creeping in. It was the waiter who came to them and said,“I am sorry to interrupt you sirs,I guess you are discussing business. You have been sitting here the whole afternoon and have only taken juice,would you mind having anything else?” “Oh it is already dark. No thank you. I need to take bath first then watch world news before eating. Perhaps my friend here will not mind,”Jit said. “No thank you. I am also doing the same,”KK said as they both stood up to leave for their rooms. One thing was now clear in his mind,and he was more determined to implement it after watching the match and going back to Kenya,that his learning of the language of the Koreans would give him a clear understanding of their way of life and he would exemplary hard in this. It was now evident to him that language begets culture.

Posted on March 21, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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