“Say again?” said a waitress. I was red faced. It was the third time that I had to repeat the same words to order food at a restaurant. She seemed to be annoyed by me in a very busy day. I was so embarrassed as well by the other people nearby who could overhear me. She finally squinted her eyes and guessed my order with clear pronunciation. I said yes. She heard my yes clearly. Of course I had to enjoy a pound burger instead of a taco. Since then, I refuse to go a restaurant which doesn't provide a hand-out menu for a long time.
I have been speaking in English as a foreign language for ten years in the United States. Learning language in real life is fun because you can learn what a textbook can’t teach. Yet it also involves unexpected events which causes embarrassment, uncomfortable public attention, and unintended mistakes. After all those years, English is still bugging me, and I still occasionally repeat my order from the menu.
Konglish is to visualize/share how complex it is to use English to me. My first language, Korean, is a primary tool to learn English. Getting confused between two languages is inevitable. When somebody asks me a question in English, my brain still goes through this process of translating the question in Korean, processing the core meaning, converting my answer back to English, and answering verbally. Many times during this process the two languages get mixed and result in a type of broken English, also known as “Konglish” (Korean English). In this project, I place two characters from each language in a square and the characters form what I call “mutants” when they are collided by servo motors. The unexpected/unreadable letterforms in the square represents my Konglish.