White sand beaches and clear water so that you can see down to your toes. Sand dunes and protected areas for sea turtles and birds to lay their eggs. Just good ‘ole fun in the sun.
After New Orleans, half of the family that had come down south from different parts of the country rented cars and trekked over to Seagrove, Florida. Sitting between Pensacola and Panama City, the area is pretty quiet and perfect for families just wanting to sit on a beach for a week or so. By day, we swam, took walks, tanned and by night, families took turns commanding the kitchen, while the rest talked on the deck, watched movies or played card games inside.
I never feel like I get enough beach time in the summer and as the first beach time of the year for me, it was perfect. A whole week and we were with my family. We actually got to spend quite a bit more time with members of my family from Denver and Ohio that we don’t usually see much of on our trips back so that was even more delightful. Seeing how people grow and change over time, yet how we can all come together and be one is wonderful.
This trip, though similar in so many ways to past trips, found Jae-oo that much more comfortable with people and quite a few of my family members commented on his growth in language skills. I’ve always thought he spoke well and probably living somewhere where a majority of the population doesn’t speak my own language fluently skews my view as does living with someone. It’s hard to notice when someone you see everyday gains or loses weight and I imagine noticing language improvements could be similar in a way. Also, compared to his friends, he has always been smoother with English and understands words his friends need translated. Just as Koreans I come in contact with here for a short time shower with me with compliments on my language acquisition and use though to me it’s not warranted, my family was doing the same to him and I put forth a few theories on why they might be noticing this just now.
Everyone speaks with a certain style, using certain words again and again while never using others or opting for certain phrases or grammar styles over others. As an example, I remember my grandmother was talking about her trousers one day at lunch a couple years ago and Jae-oo leaned over and asked me what she was talking about. I would most likely never use the word trousers in my common day to day life, instead I would opt for the more familiar ‘pants’ but I understood what my grandmother was talking about. She grew up in a different time and as such, different words and phrases are her go to. My youngest sister overuses the word “like” and “I mean”. She is much better than she used to be, but on our first trip home, a sentence out of her mouth may sound something like, “so, like, I mean it was so fun. Like, you know what I mean?” Jae-oo had no idea what she meant and he asked me why she kept saying “like” when she wasn’t comparing anything. He had met these two people that he would see again and again on our trips to my home and the range of the English language being used between the two was very wide and that is just two people. Because each person has their own unique style of speaking, as a foreign listener, he has had to learn each person’s style in order to understand each one of my family members and maybe he’s better at listening to them all now.
Another theory is that my family members are now more familiar with his speaking style and accent. Some of the older members of my family used to just get louder when he didn’t understand them and I would come by and tell him what they meant because it was clear to me that it wasn’t that he didn’t hear, it was that he didn’t know the word used. Or, if Jae-oo was responding, because of his accent some of my family members wouldn’t recognize a common word until I repeated it with a slightly different accent. His grammar structure was learned, whereas much of ours was picked up over time and so sometimes what he says is in fact correctly spoken, but we wouldn’t necessarily say it that way colloquially. One example of that is the negative question. I found when I was teaching here, Korean students actually answered the question opposite the way that I would naturally answer a negative question, but upon thinking it over, I decided they were right. “You didn’t want that, did you?” I would lean towards saying, “no, I didn’t want that” but they would say, “yes” meaning, “yes, I didn’t want that.” Now, when a question like that comes up, I lean toward the latter instead of my former, but still say the entire sentence so that everyone, the speaker and the listener, are on the same page.
Whether he’s more comfortable with them or they’re more aware of his accent is hard to tell, but it’s nice that so many people told him how much they thought he’d improved. By far, he said the easiest people to understand in my family were my male cousins, but let’s be honest, what do boys even talk about? I think most of their conversations went something like:
“Let’s go eat.”
“Let’s go swim.”
White sand beaches and clear water so that you can see down to your toes. Sand dunes and protected areas for sea turtles and birds to lay their eggs.