Saturday, October 21, 2006

Awkwardness

Every Thursday, we take Miriam to Storytime at the local library. There are usually a dozen or so moms there with their babies. It's a fun way to spend an hour even if Miriam prefers walking around and exploring the room to sitting in my lap and singing/reading along with the group.

There are two Korean women who attend regularly. I mention that they are Korean because they actually are - I don't mean that they are of Korean descent (though of course that's true, too), I mean that they are actually Korean and probably moved here only very recently. One of them has a son named Nicholas. The other has a son named Justine.

Yes, you read that right. Whenever anybody asks what her son's name is, she says "Justine." The asker always repeats it carefully, uncertainly, as if they're hoping they didn't hear her right. But she repeats it, "Justine."

You know what I think is going on here? I think her native Korean language habits don't allow for our lazy American way of laxing the vowels in unstressed syllables. So she pronounces the 'i' in the male name "Justin" tensely, turning it into the female "Justine."

I'm working up the courage to tell her next week that she is pronouncing her son's name incorrectly. Nobody is doing her a favor by keeping quiet about it. Unless of course, her son's name actually is Justine, in which case I will embarrass myself and her tremendously. But for the little guy's sake, I think that's a risk I'm willing to take.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good luck. Granny

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