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Mobile Conoff June 30, 2009

Posted by KG in Delhi, FS Life, Language.
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Fresh off a two week TDY in Calcutta, I’m on TDY with the wife in New Delhi.  Sweeping pronouncements about the three big Indian cities (sorry, Chennai) to come. 

A note to FSI students headed to language-designated consular jobs: learn the words for “left,” “right,” and the local terms for each individual finger, and learn them well.   Along with “income” and those pesky family relationship terms, these will be the most important words for your job (shocker!).  This message brought to you by the words “sajja” and “kabba”, “jamna” and “dabba,” and “dahanu” and “bahanu,” left and right in Punjabi, Gujarati, and Oriya.

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1. Driftingfocus - July 1, 2009

Yeah, due to learning the words most relevant to me, my Korean vocabulary is quite hilariously varied. While of course the first words I learned were things like “hello” and “thank you” (though not “excuse me”, strangely, as saying it embarrasses Koreans and is not suggested), I very quickly afterward learned the words for “photojournalist” (me), “policeman” (my partner), “diplomat” (his family), and “artist” (my family). If I had stayed longer, I was going to figure out a clever way to say “just use XYZ pronoun for me”, since Korean has about 8 levels of politeness in pronouns and yet no neutral one (it is impossible to be equal with someone – you are always higher or lower), and thus they ask you a million questions when they first meet you in order to try and determine how to refer to you; “what is your job?”, “are you married?”, “what country are you from?”, “how old are you?”, etc. Wow, that was an incredibly long sentence.

How often do you have to deal with the variation in dialects?


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