Monthly Archives: March 2014

Hanja: 작을, 소 & 적을, 소

While studying hanja, I came across the following two:

小 meaning: 작을 pronunciation: 소

少 meaning: 적을 pronunciation: 소

Notice how similar they are! So cruel that they even have the same pronunciation.
At first I didn’t even notice. The sample word that made me realise it was the word 소년 (boy).

It was written 소년 in 한글 and 少年 in hanja, which I first misread as “small year” since I learned 小 before 少 and therefore automatically associated the sound of 소 with 小. I thought it was such a weird way to phrase it since the years themselves will not ‘get bigger’ as someone ages, rather it’s the number of them that increases. Only then I realised that it was of course “few years” which makes somewhat more sense since a child is of course “a few years old”.

I don’t know if this is the official explanation of the characters, but at least now I can remember the difference easily.

For those who wonder what a young girl is called, it’s 소녀 (少女)

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Pens, notebooks, and study books

I don’t know what it is with language learners and their pens and notebooks. It seems we’re all like that? That feeling of starting a new notebook with a fresh pen is almost meditative. These days I feel like buying pens, but I have to face the fact that I don’t actually need new pens. Today I even went to browse in the uni book shop, but I managed to pull myself together and leave without buying anything…

After arriving at home, I realised I have 5 blue ball point pens of various types to use before I need to buy new ones. Five! And those are just the ones I see on my desk. I probably have a stash in some drawer as well. This year I’m saving all I can, and one important part of my strategy is to absolutely not buy something I don’t actually need. So no pens, note books or highlighters before the ones I have are used. And no new Korean books before I have finished several of those that are already waiting in my shelf.

It was really tempting to buy myself a birthday present from TwoChois, but I decided against it and will shop again when I’m further in my studies and genuinely need new challenges. I have books.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a big shopper and I’m not one to burn cash out of boredom. Perhaps it’s the sense of accomplishment when I get to start a new book, since it means I completed another one before it?

Next time I buy new study materials, I will have completed a lot more!

Modern Korean – intermediate reader

Yesterday was a good Korean learning day. I have read the chapter on Seoul in Modern Korean – an Intermediate Reader and started doing the substitution drills.

Ok, so the actual text is only a page and a half while the rest is vocabulary, grammar, and exercises, but when I bought the book I was unable to read it without looking up every other word and grammar point so I sense improvement 🙂 it’s a really good book and I enjoy working with it so far.

What I like:
– you learn a lot about Korea when reading it so you both learn the language and about the country.
– key vocabulary is provided in a list at the end of the chapter.
– key grammatical structures are pointed out after the main text of the chapter
– grammar exercises are provided in various forms (the sample sentence is the one from the main text and then you work from that)
– translation exercises are provided incl. a clue for which grammatical structure should be used.
– if you work with others there are suggestions for dialogues and role plays you can practice together.
– based on the topic of the chapter, you are encouraged to write an essay/ think of answers to questions etc.

Side note:
Two days ago at work I even got to use Korean! Someone at work had to decipher some invoices in Korean and asked for my help to find out what line item was what. The first word she needed was 카드 which obviously isn’t a difficult word, but people who have no idea about 한글 get really impressed. Thankfully I had my dictionary with me for the other words!!!

Today I worked 10 hours so I’m a bit tired, but I will try to read a bit more tonight.

Word of the day: 방방곡곡 – throughout the length and breadth of the land

방방곡곡 ~ every nook and corner of the country
I just thought it was a great word!

You find it for instance in the very end of chapter 1 of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone:
그는 물론 바로 이 순간, 방방곡곡에서 비밀리에 모여든 사람들이 술잔을 높이 쳐들고 장엄한 목소리로 “살아남은 아이, 해리 포터를 위해” 하며 축배를 들고 있다는 사실도 전혀 알지 못했다.
He was oblivious to the fact that in that very moment, people gathered in secret all over the country raised their glasses and solemnly drank a toast “to Harry Potter, the boy who lived”.

This is my own translation since my English Harry Potter books are currently in a storage, so please bear with any inaccuracies in my translation since I cannot check with the original.

Different word, same sound

Today in language exchange we spent some time talking about verbs that sound similar either when conjugated or in their dictionary form. For instance:

낫다 (to recover from illness): 나아요
낳다 (to give birth): 낳아요
나다 (to be born, to hail from a specific place): 나요, “서울에서 나아요”

잃다 (to lose, to drop)
일다 (to rise)

It ended up in a discussion about conjugations and correct spelling vs. pronunciation, and my two language partners had to trawl through Naver and I found my iRiver dictionary before we finally reached a conclusion for some of the questions.

It’s a learning experience for all of us and it’s funny how you become so much more aware of the oddities of your own language when teaching it to others.

TTMIK level 5 in progress and level 6 waiting

I’m well into level 5 now and level 6 is already on my electronic dictionary just waiting for me to complete level 5. Thankfully I already have a fair grasp of things and I’m thinking of doing some audio posts reading some of the sample phrases.

My routine is to listen to TTMIK while walking to the station and on the train. Depending on whether I’m going to uni or work, it adds up to 1.25 or 1.5 hour respectively each way. Finally something positive to say about a long commute! The multiple changes make it a hassle to read course readings, but listening to Korean works like a charm.

It isn’t a new thing, but for a long time I have been so tired that I was a bit nervous when passing the zoo by bus in case someone mistook me for a run-away panda, which does not exactly make for the most Korean-study-friendly state of mind. Anyway, I’m listening to Korean again 🙂

Closer every day, but still a long way to go

A few days ago I got to speak with a Korean at work. However, we didn’t actually speak Korean. There were moments where I wished I could have just switched to Korean rather than us speaking potluck-Scandinavian, but his Norwegian was sooo much better than my Korean that I betrayed no knowledge of Korean and we stuck to our unique Norwegian/Swedish/Danish mix. It would have been so cool if I could have just switched and wow’ed him with my Korean skills!

The odd thing is that I never spoke this much Swedish when I actually lived in Sweden and now I speak it almost every day! Life is really unpredictable.

If some of you wonder how we can speak together in different languages, it’s because the Scandinavian languages are relatively similar. Danish and Norwegian have relatively similar spellings, but some strategic words are very different, and Norwegians “sing” more. Swedish sounds closer to Norwegian than Danish, but has a significantly different vocabulary from both Danish and Norwegian.
It often works if at least one has a fair understanding of which words are different and adjusts to the other, but other times a dialect can really throw you off and then you need to find a native or switch to English.

One day I will be able to make that switch to Korean.