I often think about useless things. This is one of them.

When I first came here to Korea, I must admit that I was quite doubtful about the Koreans’ ability to speak English, much less write it. Then I started receiving text messages from them and was quite shocked.

So in America, we have our ways of abbreviating certain words, such as “because” into “cuz” or “bcuz” and “please” into “plz” and “thanks” into “thx”, “you know” into “u kno”, and so on. (I, myself, don’t use these abbreviations because of reasons that are totally not relevant to this topic so I will move on.) I had no idea that those same abbreviations had crossed the Great Divide and also come to Korea. I dunno. I was just… surprised. I had never expected Korean people to relinquish the effort of striving to use perfect English in all applicable situations. I guess I had this image of Koreans as perfectionists embedded in my mind or something. So whenever I see those texts, I think, “Where did you learn that?!” Granted, a lot of these kids have gone to study abroad and whatnot, so they could’ve picked it up from there. But wouldn’t the people there have tried to use accurate English with them in order to not confuse them?

The reverse situation is that Korean kids can’t really use their abbreviations and “LOL/ROFL/BTW” equivalents with me too much because I won’t understand it until someone takes the tedious time to explain it to me, haha. And Koreans are generally impatient, haha, so basically some rushed, half-assed interpretation is explained to me. Oh, languages.

Of course, the flip side is that when friends or cousins see me typing in English on an instant messaging program “LOL” or “ROFL” they promotly ask, “Hey, what’s that?” in which case I try to explain my best the gist of those acronyms and all the subtle nuances and connotations conveyed in them. (C’mon, admit it, even the humble “LOL” can be used in at least 10 different situations and tones! Even spin-offs have been made: for example, the sarcastic “lulz”.) In which case, they utter the omnipresent Korean, “…Oh”, repeat it a couple times to make sure, then walk off with a newly-planted seed in their vocabulary. I can’t wait to see “LOL” or “ROFL” on a neon-color T-shirt in the next few weeks.