I had to personally ask permission to attend the pan-Jeju ETA dinner, that I guess is not totally pan-Jeju, but whatever. The principal does not want my coteacher to do it for me. So he first gives me a hard time about explaining where I’ll be –in Korean– and only as he’s about to sign does he tell me that I have to ask the vice principal first, sends me off. She signs, and I return as he’s meeting with another teacher. As he finishes marking whatever it is she met with him about, he says “Met-chu-gi! Yong-eo mwo-ayo?” I don’t know what that word means in English. But he keeps asking, in apparent disbelief that this is not in my vocabulary, says it slowly and makes me repeat it as though the meaning will manifest itself. He fingers the long tapered leaf of a decorative plant nearby –“what is this?” I keep hoping that a wide-eyed look of total incomprehension will save me in these situations though it never does. The big dictionary comes out and we have to go through the words for “rice plant” and “insect” before finally coming to met-chu-gi. And only then will he sign the permission form.
It means grasshopper.