As a linguist, I’m highly disappointed in the castaways of “Lost.” In the time they’ve been on the island, not one of them has truly attempted to either 1) learn a few words of Korean or 2) see if Sun or Jin is open to being taught a few words of English. Instead, in painfully true-to-life (but rapidly aging) fashion, they’re relying on the highly effective (*snort*) method of talking really loudly and slowly. Mostly we see this with the English speakers, but last episode it was great to see Jin doing it right back in Korean.

What really disappointed me was that, from what I’ve seen, last week’s episode should have included less crosstalking comedy and more communication, simply due to Jin’s counterpart being Hurley. He’s not a linguist as far as we know, but he is the Guy Who Gets Things Done ™. He has a hefty dose of common sense and “aha” ability, and the wherewithal to act on what he perceives. If any of the major characters were to try to compile some sort of papyrus dictionary, it would be him. And considering that the need to communicate with the Koreans has actually been articulated, unlike the need to take a census or build a golf course, if this weren’t TV, by now he’d probably have either been doing it or found someone else to. Admittedly, though, if he had, we may not have gotten to see that, on the island, the Talk Really Loud method of intercultural communication is universal. Which is comforting, in an odd way: we may not understand each other, but there’s at least something in our communication mechanisms that’s the same.

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