Dad (in Korean): I just got the fax. (Phex soo bat uh suh.)
Me (in Korean): OK. (Eung.)
Dad (in English): Thank you.
Have you ever noticed that your parents or other older Koreans prefer to say "thank you" in English rather than "go ma wau" in Korean?
I swear it's true.
Why is that?
I mean, there must be a reason.
My dad wants me to teach Korean to my children and he was rather disappointed that my husband doesn't speak Korean very well. It's very clear that the Korean language is very important to him, especially since his grasp of the English language is minimal at best. He hasn't really had to learn it since he lives in Southern California where there are Korean markets, banks, tailors, accountants, mortgage brokers, doctors, lawyers, shoemakers, mechanics... you get the picture.
So, why is it that with this one word, he uses the English word and not the Korean? Is he trying to show off his English abilities? (Maybe like when he used the F word to the car that cut him off when I was in jr. high school?)
My theory is that it's because the Korean culture doesn't emphasize saying thank you as much as the American culture and somehow, saying "go ma wau" or "gam sa ham ni da" just come out as naturally as "thank you." Also, I don't remember being taught much about "manners" in Korea when I was attending elementary school there. And it's my general observation that Western "manners" are not really observed in Korea. People don't say please or excuse me. And there is frozen spit caked all over the sidewalks in the winter. (I blame the smokers for that one.)
Somehow, I think the Korean form of expressing a genuine "thank you" goes much deeper. I feel like rather than saying thank you, people value gratitude in action. Like children take care of their parents when they are older to say "thank you" for raising me. Or that tradition of giving your first paycheck, in its entirety, to your parents to express thanks.
Oh, the other word I hear a lot in English is "sorry," or should I say, "soh-lee."