Next up on the hit-parade : an item a couple of days ago on MBC News talked about a new trend amongst the parents of elementary school children – forcing them to undergo a surgerical procedure which severs some bits of muscle that control the tongue, thus apparently ‘lengthening’ it. You might well wonder why a longer tongue would be such an valuable asset. I certainly did.
Well, it seems there’s a widespread belief that us foreign dogs have much longer tongues than the average Korean, and this evolutionary quirk gives us the ability to pronounce English (and presumably other languages) with more facility. A little radical body mod on the kids will stand them in good stead for pronouncing English, is the thinking.
I don’t really need to rant about this, do I?
I will note though, that almost without fail, throughout their entire elementary, middle and high-school careers, Korean kids are taught completely incorrect phonemes to approximate sounds that exist in English and other Euro languages, but not in Korean. By the time they reach adulthood, if they continue to study English, their pronunciation is so deeply and permanently mangled that it’s very difficult indeed for them to correct it. This is perpetuated by the universal habit of using a whole host of Konglish words written in Hangul script on television and elsewhere (like ‘news’ which in Korean is ´ºÁî, which is pronounced ‘nyoo-juh’), which forces and perpetuates mispronounciation, and annoys the crap out of me.
A decent education system, with well-trained teachers, and practice, will improve kids’ pronunciation of English and other foreign languages, not surgery. Grrrr.