Adventures in Cultural Differences…

I’m getting ready to go skiing for 3 days. Three of us will be leaving here at 4:10 tomorrow morning. ugh.

As I was preparing for the trip, I went over some of the safety rules for the resort. I smiled when I came across the following notice:

Please use formal speak to other skiers.
Often, it is hard to know the age and gender of fellow skiers due to shades, masks, and hats. Please use formal speak when addressing other skiers, just to be safe.

In Korea, ‘formal speak’ is used to talk to people higher than you on the Confucian Hierarchy of social importance. The polite form requires different endings on the verbs to convey respect. While this is just an everyday thing I’ve gotten used to, it still came as a surprise to see it on the rules and regulations for a ski resort.

Since I’ve picked up most of my Korean bit-by-bit, some of it I’ve learned with the respectful verb endings and some of it I’ve learned with just the regular, run-of-the-mill polite endings. I tend to bounce back and forth between them during any given exchange. That seems to be okay, because I’m a foreigner, and don’t really fit anywhere on the hierarchy.

Now, having read that notice, I’ll be listening tomorrow to hear just how many folks on the slopes actually heed the advice.

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