If you had asked me six months ago if I would recommend buying an electronic dictionary I would have shrugged and told you it probably wasn’t necessary. Then something happened: I saw my language partner’s electronic dictionary and realised that it’s really practical!
So far I have relied on a mix of physical dictionaries, Google, and Naver, but:
– dictionaries are not always very “portable” – at least not if you also plan to carry other things with you.
– google translate is… well… often unreliable… and requires you to have an internet connection while you work.
– naver has a great dictionary, but you also need an internet connection for this one, and the website is slower here than in Korea.
With time I realised that whenever we looked up a word in the electronic dictionary, whether from Korean to English or the other way around, the results always made sense, and the sample sentences were useful. In comparison, I cannot count the number of times google translate has sent my language partner into fits of giggles.
So in late November I decided to buy my own electronic dictionary. Hurdle number 1: you cannot buy them in Europe. Solution? Korean online shopping!
We sat down, looked through the various types and brands and decided which one fits my needs the best (e.g. I don’t need a Spanish-Korean dictionary so why pay extra for one that has that?), I even called the customs clearance people to ask them about obscure import rules to be aware of, and we finally placed the order on G-market.
Then we waited.
After three days we could see online that the dictionary had been packed.
After another two days it left Incheon airport.
We figured it would register in Europe any time now. Delivery should take approximately a week.
And then… Nothing happened… We waited a bit more and my language partner tracked it regularly through her G-market account only to find a “your product is on its way” message. She found a regular tracking number so I could track it myself sometimes.
I waited a bit more, ending up learning the tracking number by heart from checking the delivery status every day (is that sad or just a sign of excitement?).
Still, the last registration was made in early December so where had it gone?
I called the post office to ask them if they knew anything, ending up spending quite a while listening to muzak interspersed with “fun facts” about the postal service (for instance, did you know that the Danish post workers hand out 25 tonnes of biscuits/year to stay on good terms with dogs who are unimpressed by the concept of mail delivery?). Eventually I got through and was told that from the parcel leaves Korea to it reaches Denmark, there is a blind spot when tracking packages. They don’t register the transit places online for me (or them) to see. Aha!
I tried to see if google could come up with some sort of international tracking so I could see how far from Denmark it was. It could. Result: a UK-based carrier. And there even was a phone number. It turned out that goods in transit were not registered at all. Even if they had had it, they didn’t now. I consolled myself thinking “it’s in the EU!”. Well…
Today my language partner told me she got a notification from the sellers that they had tracked the parcel for us since it hadn’t arrived on time: it’s in Turkey. However, they had asked the local carriers to hurry up. That actually made me laugh.
The little dictionary continues its travel. Hopefully it comes home soon.