Do Snakes Have Tails?

Yesterday Good Man and I played 20 Questions, known as 스무고개, in Korean. I was thinking of 팸, snake.

Good Man asked, “꼬리 없어?” It doesn’t have a tail?

I was reminded of the octopus arm/leg incident. “미국에서 꼬리 있어. 하지만 한국에서 몰라. 아마 꼬리 없어.”

Good Man stared at me. “뭐?”

I repeated myself. In America, it has a tail. In Korea, I don’t know. Maybe it doesn’t have a tail.

He asked if it lived in water.

“때때로.” Sometimes.

He stared at me again. Perhaps I was being too strict with my playing of 20 Questions. I offered, “나무, 물, 토 [흙], 사막에서 살 수 있어.” It can live in trees, water, ground [with a mistaken word], the desert.

He guessed it was a snake and then said, “Snakes don’t have tails.”

“They do in English.”

“That doesn’t make sense.”

(Actually, it does make sense. Good Man used Professor Google in Korean and found out that snakes do have tails in Korean.)


Good Man teased me. “You say 소고기, 물고기 cutely.”

“Huh? How do I say them?”

Good Man laughed, “소고기, 물고기!”

“How am I supposed to say it?”

Good Man sounded very depressed. “물고기. 소고기.”

Apparently I say sogogi and mulgogi like a happy, excited child. I’m supposed to say them like a depressed, sad adult.