Speaking in Subtitles

오랜만이다! 잘 지냈어요?

I haven’t written a new post in quite a long time – and it was a long time before that post that I’d last written a post. I really need to get my act together and start actively blogging again. I thought that if I ‘took a break,’ I’d be blogging again in no time – once I had more time.

Image not mine.

And yes, college has been busy, life has been crazy, endless midterms and papers are all very awful, but it’s no excuse to ignore what I really love: writing, reading (in English) and studying Korean. And I’ve been ignoring them all far too much.

Something that has come to my attention over the past several months is what my best friend and I like to call ‘speaking in subtitles.’ 

I have a few language partners. I truthfully only talk to one of them consistently, and even that is on a how-gosh-darn-busy-are-we basis. Yet when I am chatting with him, I discover that I use very awkward English. Technically it’s correct English; the grammar is right, the vocabulary makes sense…

But I take so much care in constructing my sentences in ways that I’m sure will make it easy for him to understand that my own words start to sound like a badly subtitled movie where the subs are English translations of Chinese subs of a Korea-produced film where the actors are speaking Japanese.

And it just sounds so weird because it’s so awkwardly formal and it’s annoyingly repetitive.

“Yes; that is a correct phrase for you to use in that situation. It is very common. People use it frequently.”

Doctor Who! GIF not mine.

Hmm. It’s hard to know how to talk to a language partner in your native language sometimes, 맞아요? If you speak very casually and colloquially, you run the risk of constantly explaining yourself. You also might accidentally teach them to speak somewhat inappropriately to someone.

Not in a swearword or R-rated manner – just in a this-sounds-weird manner.

Like talking with a parent who has had a bad day and doesn’t want to deal with anyone but has a lot of work to do. “Chin up!” isn’t wrong to say, it just seems really odd to tell your mother even if it is a nice and encouraging phrase.

How do you talk with your language partner? Do you ever find yourself speaking in subtitles – to anyone, language partner or not, in native language or target language?


Guess what I’m listening to? T to the a to the eeee, y to the a-n-g!

Obviously. TAEBAE IS BAAAACK!!!!


2 thoughts on “Speaking in Subtitles

  1. I totally agree with you, I always speak to my boyfriend in a much slower and different way to the way I normally speak to native people. I think that’s mainly because when I first met my boyfriend his English wasn’t so great so I had to speak slower for him to understand but now his English is really good I just can’t speak at normal speed with him.

    I liked this post and Taeyang….yummy! Really like his new song! 🙂


    • Thanks for the comment^^

      Haha I’m glad I’m not the only one! It’d be super interesting if the mind processes this ‘speaking in subtitles’ differently than how native speakers communicate naturally with each other…

      감사합니다~!!^^ 저도 ㅎㅎ 그 노래 진짜 좋은데~


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