Monthly Archives: December 2015

Word of the day: 양아치

After sending a picture of the list with words related to occupations to someone including a comment about the criminal varieties, I got the following reply:

“ㅋㅋㅋ 거기 리스트에 “양아치”도 넣어야함”

So there you have it:
양아치: bully, gangster

An unexpectedly long tutoring session

Yesterday my Italki lesson was severely delayed because my tutor forgot about me. Not cool. At least I learned a new verb for forgetting, 깜박하다, which is when something slips your mind. However, once we actually started skyping we ended up talking for 2 hours and after that we chatted for another hour (I actually thought it was 30 min, but looking at the chat log I just realised it was a full hour).

It wasn’t all in Korean, but a lot of it was, and all of it was super fun. It got pretty late before I got to bed, but today I’m keeping up appearances and have been pretty productive nevertheless.

Word of the day: 똘마니

This word I’m pretty sure I learned through an episode of 힐러. If I’m not mistaken, it’s the name under which the female helper (the one with the motorcycle) is saved in the male lead’s phone book.

똘마니: Minion

This is a great thing about dramas: once you start paying attention to the the screen names of the drama characters’ phone contacts, it will undoubtedly add a bit of fun to your life – and vocabulary.

Vocabulary about occupation

Since of of my three Italki tutors had to stop teaching for a little while for personal reasons, I went to look for another one so I don’t end up “wearing out” the  first two. This time I opted for a professional teacher.

In spite of some Skype connection issues we did a lot and she showed me different material of different levels of difficulty, had me read a bit aloud and answer questions.

At the end of the class she sent me some sheets with useful vocabulary to describe educational background and occupation. Reading through the latter I noticed one thing: even occupations of the more shady variety are listed.

Right after assemblyman (국회의원), minister (장관), and politician (정치가), you find gangster (깡패), organised gangster (조폭) – not to confuse with the regular ones obviously – and thief (도둑).

It might be unintentional, but there is some humour in that order!

고장난명: You cannot clap with only one hand

This four character hanja expression I came across in an episode of 별에서 온 그대 when the two leads come back from an overnight trip only to get caught in the hallway with their weekend bags by her mother and his ‘father’ – who in turn start arguing about which one of them has failed as a parent.

When the female lead readily agrees to having been the wily one of the two, he “shares responsibility” by saying this four character expression. I cannot imagine ever seeing such a scene in a Scandinavian series, but it certainly had entertainment value.

Before digressing further, let’s get to the 사자성어:

고장난명 (孤掌難鳴): You cannot clap with only one hand.
고: 외로울 고 – solitary
장: 손바닥 장 – palm
난: 어려울 란(난) -difficult
명: 울 명 – make sound

In English it would be closer to “it takes two to tango”.

Great great week

This week has been one heck of a ride with great news at work and loaaads of Korean practice. It started with a job interview for a permanent position at my current workplace followed by some 27 hours and 34 minutes of semi-angst (hey, you never know!) before being offered a position plus a grant for my thesis – for which I have finally decided on a topic as well. That means that I have secured myself a position after the summer holidays! 대-박! I will continue working while writing, but I will limit my working time to just two days per week so I will actually have time to write as well. It’s been a little bit surreal – but in a very very good way.

So, without further ado, here is what I have done related to Korean this week:

Speaking and listening:
Italki lesson #8 (Thursday, 45 min):
As we have done the past two times that we have spoken, we spoke mostly in Korean about regular things – my job offer, what have I bought for my siblings for Christmas, how old were my parents when they retired since they retired early and so on. Everything I couldn’t initially phrase in Korean I would say first in English so she knew what was going on in my head, and then she would help me restructure it from English to Korean with some leading questions along the lines of “how do you say ABC? How about XYZ?  how would you combine those two grammar points?”. I even got a bit of homework at the end of the class concerning grammar points that would improve my fluency.

Also, I learned that when speaking about somebody else’s wishes -고 싶다 changes to -고 싶어하다. AHA! good to know…

Italki lesson #9 (Thursday, 1h 24min):
The strange duration of that class comes down to us going a tad over time, but towards the end we chit-chatted mostly in English until my connection inexplicably died. This was a rescheduled lesson because my tutor wasn’t feeling well on Sunday. Normally I wouldn’t schedule two lessons on the same day, but it worked out fine and I wasn’t completely worn out before this one. During this lesson I didn’t speak as much Korean as in the one before it, but I got myself a wicked collection of vocabulary. To share a few words with you:
건달: a close equivalent could be a “hustler”. For the Danes out there, it should translate to the wonderful word “sjuft”.
잡치다: to make a mess of something or put slightly more colloquially: “to fuck up”. If ever in need of an alternative to 망하다 for the sake of variation, this might the word for you.

Italki lesson #10 (Friday, 45 min):
I spoke a lot of Korean again in this lesson and managed to incorporate some of the grammar patterns from previous lessons. We went over homework, talked about sleeping times, travel, movies, and entertainment programs on TV. For a 45 minute lesson that seems pretty intense, but it didn’t seem rushed. Speaking of the Danish sense of humour, which is on the rather dry end of the scale, we ended up talking a bit about the show “Abnormal Summit”. I have watched a few clips here and there, but so far I hadn’t watched a lot of it. Apparently the German guy is renowned for his somewhat special sense of humour, which Koreans tend to find a bit difficult to understand sometimes. I should check it out properly to see if his sense of sarcasm matches that of the Danes. For our next session I should go through the new grammar points that we covered, and write a few sentences with two grammar points of my own choice.

Italki lesson #11 (Saturday, 30 min):
This was an introductory lesson with a new tutor, since one of my other tutor’s schedule doesn’t always match mine. To not risk ending up going too long without speaking and falling back into my old ways, I decided to try one more. She was super up-beat and stuck to Korean for the entire 30 min that the lesson lasted. Before the lesson she had messaged me to ask for a bit of information about my level, and we agreed to just speak as much as possible. Towards the end of the lesson she sent me some material that she thought would be suitable for my level, and it seems to be pretty spot on so I look forward to going through it.

Revised: -(으)려고 and -지 모르겠어요. The latter I never learned formally before, but I’ve heard it it so many times, that I knew the structure already. One thing is recognising it, though. Using it in a natural way is slightly different.
Learned: -에 따라 and -고 싶어하다

I texted with friends over Kakaotalk and made sure to tell them to please correct me if I write something that seems off so I don’t get bad habits when writing. Some of them already do when something comes out strangely, but telling them again has already earned me a few “this sounds a bit more natural”, which is great.

My homework consists of written assignments, so I got a bit of writing practice as well.

It didn’t happen this week. I worked some 25 hours and had to deal with some thesis stuff. I think I learned a lot from my italki lessons, though, so I won’t beat myself up over lack of readings. I plan to read some Korean over Christmas where I will stay away from academia and work 24th-26th before returning to normal on the 27th – hopefully full of new energy.

Japanese/Korean confusion

Leave it to me to convert a Japanese language partner to Korean TV series. Since some time back in October, I’ve met a Japanese speaking girl to prep for my weekly Japanese class on Wednesdays and to help her with Danish homework. Obviously I wasted no chance to introduce her to a bit of Korean, which has shaped conversations a little bit since then.

Next week she will visit some family elsewhere in Europe and then go back home so none of us were feeling particularly studious today. Naturally that meant that we ended up talking about Korean language and guys instead of geeking out on Japanese grammar and her (fairly odd) Danish book.

Last week I couldn’t go to my Japanese class due to studies and work, and today was obviously complete anarchy at our Japanese meeting so needless to say my Japanese was fairly rusty by the time I reached my class. But it was so worth it to just have a bit over an hour of undiluted girly gossip.

Rest assured that my Korean studies are pretty much on track, though.

How are your studies going? I can see in my reader that some of you already have holidays!!! 부러워요!

Speaking practice

Yesterday I had a 45 min lesson which was great, but incredibly tiring (by 7 PM I was basically ready to just go to bed). At the end of the lesson she suddenly said that she was going to ask some questions to see if I remembered some words and expressions from last time. It makes so much sense to follow up, but I still had a brief moment of fear that I would have forgotten everything. It went well enough, though, and we will continue our endeavours next week.

My short time on Italki has got me wondering what it is that makes me feel comfortable enough to speak – and obviously make plenty of mistakes – with some people, but clam up when around others (I can think of a few people who have this effect on me).

It’s probably a less fortunate combination of perfectionism and a sense of embarrassment which I’m now slowly forcing myself to let go of since it’s downright necessary for me to improve at this stage. And of course these are paid language lessons so the very concept itself entails that one of us is learning the language.

While I couldn’t afford putting in 30-40 USD, which is the hourly rate of many professional teachers, several times per week, the hourly rate of an informal tutor adds up to about the same as a large cappuccino and a cake in a cafe in Copenhagen. That allows for more regular classes, which is exactly what I need right now, and so far I have been very happy with the informal tutoring.

So far I’ve only had 6 lessons so it’s obviously too early to notice any major differences. I wonder when my Korean friends will begin to notice any improvements in my level when we write together… Time will show.

Soju superstitions

Even if not surrounded by Koreans on a daily basis, some things you learn quickly as a Korean learner and one of them is to not pour your own soju. Although I have to admit to having done that once or twice…

The other day I was home alone with my mum since my father was out for dinner with a friend. We opted for some easy food with smoked mackerel on rye bread (pretty Danish), but since it wouldn’t be considered odd to have snaps (a Danish type of alcohol that comes in many varieties and is not unlike vodka) with such food, I suggested we had a bit of soju to go with it since 1) we rarely have alone dinners, 2) soju is not as strong, 3) I’ve had that bottle for aaaages since you’re not supposed to pour your own, which means you need someone to drink it with.

Her first reaction was to give me a look that was pretty much equivalent to “it’s Tuesday…?”. The good thing about bottles with screw caps, though, is that you don’t have to empty it in one go.

What really got on her very rational nerves, though, was the “don’t pour it yourself” part. What to say but “superstition says I won’t get married if I pour my own… then I would have to live here with you and dad… forever…”. Obviously I will move out next year regardless of my civil status, but she immediately reached for two glasses. HA!

Did she like soju then? “it’s really not bad”.