반갑습니다(Bangabseumnida) is Korea for “It’s a pleasure to meet you”. It is actually only one of the way to say this, and this particular phrase literally translates to: “It is a pleasure to SEE you.”
This “Pleasure to see you” bit causes a lot of confusion with the students as they often say “It is a pleasure to meet you”, even after a few year of me teaching them. Until now I thought it was purely the way they were taught, but last night I looked at some lesson notes from KoreanClass101 and had two A-HA moments.
Apparently when Koreans haven’t seen each other for a while they will say this to each other. The first A-HA seem to suggest that the students say this to me in a way that implies that they missed me. Wrong usage, but how nice of them.
My second A-HA moment came as I was reading the notes and was reminded of the first time my ex-girlfriend came to visit me in Korea. We hugged and her first words were: “Hello. I’m please to meet you”. She immediately realised what she had said but all she could do was apologise and give an embarrassed laugh. At the time I did not understand how she could make such a mistake. She is not exactly a beginner, you see. It would seem that her Korean instincts took over at that point in time and the wrong translation passed her lips.
Interesting that I would realise this almost 3 years later.