A Canadian writer teaches English and finds out what it's like to be a foreigner.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Livar & Young 'uns

The kids have a habit of creating strange nouns out of verbs (and additional nouns) by tacking on -er. The opposite of a killer becomes a "dier", a person in the habit of personal evacuation is a "dunger" etc.

Additionally, competitiveness is bred into them at an early age. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why they are so whiny. Personal competition is so steep, that if anyone thinks that anyone else is getting even the most mundane or slight advantage over them in any situation, they weep sauvignon blanc with gale force. It goes without saying that fighting for grades is a fact of life.

Everybody knows that L vs. R is a tricky pronunciation hurtle for Asian-language speakers.

Now that these three points have been established, allow me to explain why.

A while ago, Paul and I were eating dinner together. He was glued to Yu-Gi-Oh! as usual, but was thoughtfully giving me a play-by-play.

"Teacher! That tough guy is the hero's livar," he announced.


At first I heard "Li-ver" like "alive -a +er" as in, one in the habit of being alive. All of us for example.

"Li-var," Paul clarified.

"What's a livar?"

"You knoo-ooow!"


"Yeah, like... Judy is my livar."


"Because we are almost the same at speaking English, so we fight each other. LIVAR!"

"AAAAAHHHH... rival."

Finally understanding, I thought it was awfully strange that an 8-year-old boy would have an academic rival. I can understand that competing with someone can be a real motivator, but is it really necessary in grade school?

In Korea, the answer is always yes.

It seems cancerous sometimes...

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