Monday, December 17, 2012
I was in a large department store when I overheard this conversation. To my right, was a young Asian man of about 18 or 20 who was speaking into his cell phone in an Asian language I did not recognize or even try to guess. I was busy looking at shirts when I heard the conversation begin. I quickly ducked behind the ties so I could listen in.
A thirty something father with his young son looked at the young Asian man and said, "Konichiwa." Now I don't profess to know any Asian language but I do know that this is a Japanese greeting.
The young Asian man halted his phone conversation, turned to the father and responded in English, "I'm South Korean."
The American man replied, "So? What's the difference?" YES HE ACTUALLY SAID THAT.
The young Asian dude politely and calmly responded to him, "Well, you said 'Konichiwa' which is Japanese. I am South Korean and am speaking Korean."
"Oh ... I dunno the difference. That's the only word like, that I know."
The young man, now known to be South Korean, shook his head and walked away.
The moral of the story is that if you do not know what language someone is speaking, don't try and openly guess it or fake it! You will look like an idiot. If you must know, simply ask, "What language is that?" Is that so hard? Forgive me, but it is people like this man which makes us look like the dreaded "ugly crass American." Please remind your kids to pay attention in school so they do not make stupid comments like this.