During the very first conversation with my home-stay mother, I found something odd. She occasionally made an inhaling sound of ‘heo(k)’ as if she’s out of breath, which is very similar to the one Koreans make when they’re surprised. At first I thought she finds the Korean culture very different and surprising. But as we continued our conversation, I noticed that she was making that sound even over what I don’t think THAT surprising or different at all. Strange… What’s so surprising?
I’ve noticed that at work too but just thought people are surprised or rather impressed by a little things.
And today, two of my colleagues sitting next to me started talking and made the very sound almost every other sentence. And it doesn’t seem they’re surprised or impressed at all! — I don’t understand what they’re talking about because they’re speaking in either Greenlandic or Danish. Still can’t distinguish the two. sigh.
So, finally!, I asked what that out-of-breath sound means to them. One of them didn’t even realize he was making that sound, and asked me back “Did I make such a sound?” After I mimicked that sound a few times and added I found my home-stay mother does that too, another colleague in the other side of the room exclaimed, “Ah!!! My mom does that too!” (Hello, Mr. You’re doing it too! grin.) “It means, ‘I see, or Yes, or I agree’!”