Limited vocabulary

I once had a taxi driver who professed a deep interest in linguistics. The expression of said interest had thus far taken the form of learning the word for ‘watermelon’ in eight languages — his plan was to work outward from there.

My situation is similar with regard to learning Korean. I now know a total of three noun phrases, which translate as ‘spicy squid’, ‘spicy tofu soup’, and ‘mother-in-law’. A friend pointed out recently that, if you’re a bit forgiving about verbs, this could enable the construction of countless sentences (or sentence-like utterances) useful for, say, offering my mother-in-law some spicy tofu soup, or asking my mother-in-law if there is any spicy squid to be had. OK, “countless” is a bit of an exaggeration — exactly four sentences. (Can I buy a verb please?)

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