I’ll have fries with that! “French fries 주세요 juseyo,” I said to the cashier at 버거 킹 beogeo king. Her only response was a confused look. I repeated myself. She tried to follow my line of vision to locate what I was looking at on the overhead menu. It was written in Korean, so I went ahead and sounded it out with Korean pronunciation: 후렌치후라이 hurenchi hurai. A look of relief as she rang up my order.
I had until then been avoiding saying any words borrowed from English (and there are thousands of them!) with Korean pronunciation because I was afraid I would sound like I was mocking their accent. This French fry experience helped me to realize that Koreans regard such words as Korean, not English. To put this into perspective, Americans pronounce hors d’oeuvres and fondue nothing like the original French, and trying to pronounce it like a Frenchman while speaking English just ends up sounding pretentious. The same is true in Korean for pronouncing loan words from English. Just keep that in mind when ordering a 라지 치즈 피자 raji chijeu pija*!
*large cheese pizza!