Month: March 2011


Where I live, we don’t have four seasons.  In the summer, it gets very hot and stays warm until the end of November.  Then, out of the blue, in the middle of December we get sleet and ice.  It stays cold (though not as cold as New England) through February and then BAM one day in the middle of March it gets up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 deg. Celsius).  Then it proceeds to get hotter and hotter through the summer.  While I was walking around in short sleeves last week, I heard (through Twitter) that it was raining and snowing in Korea!  I was like, What?!  Snow in March?! and Jeannie said it was 꽃샘추위.  I wasn’t entirely sure what that was so I looked it up and found that it’s roughly translated as “spring frost.”  Well, I wasn’t entirely satisfied with that explanation so I found an article about on (the Korean) Wikipedia: 꽃샘추위는 초봄에 날씨가 풀린 뒤 다시 찾아오는 일시적인 추위를 가리키는 고유어이다. 꽃이 피는 것을 시샘하는 듯이 춥다고 해서 이 이름이 붙었다. 꽃샘추위가 오면 …

Reading & Writing in Hindi

Today I attended an Indian cultural concert and charity event in my home city.  Most of the songs were in Hindi, one was in Marathi, and all of it made me wish I had made more of an effort to learn about my own culture.  I go through phases of being obsessed with Bollywood and Hindi music (usually when I’m in India) but I’m weirdly self-conscious about trying to learn Hindi.  I feel more pressured because I’m Indian… but then when I watch Hindi films, I’m surprised at how much I can understand, just because Hindi is so similar to Marathi.  And then I feel like I want to start teaching myself Hindi again.  Anyway, I have made slight progress.  I do know how to read Devanagari characters and construct some very basic sentences.  Here’s an old post of mine from tumblr about reading and writing in Hindi.

Idols on Twitter

Part of the reason Korean stuck with me more than any other language is because I don’t just learn from textbooks; I expose myself to the language (as best I can) in a variety of different ways.  Although my speaking practice is pretty much nonexistent, I get listening practice from dramas, music, TTMIK‘s 이야기 series and videos.  My reading practice I get from 만화책, short articles (usually celebrity gossip), Big Bang’s biography (AWESOME book, by the way), and Twitter.  Twitter is actually really great because you can practice reading, writing, AND learn how people use 속어.  I’ve tweeted with some native Korean speakers and learned a lot that way!  But, I have to confess – the reason I got Twitter in the first place was so I can follow all of my favorite Korean celebrities.

My penpal

Compared with my reading and listening comprehension skills, my Korean composition skills are pretty much laughable.  I tried to translate a relatively simple English song into Korean and while I think I got the grammar right, I managed to suck all the emotion out of the lyrics.  Sigh.  Anyway, I’ve been trying to improve my writing ability by commenting on TTMIK, tweeting some native Korean speakers, and emailing my Korean penpal, Dina. Dina (her Korean name is 도희) and I have been penpals for about a year now.  She was actually my younger sister’s friend back when they were both in the 1st and 2nd grade here in the States, but she moved back to Korea at the end of 2nd grade.  She’d been in touch with my sister and when my sister mentioned my interest in the Korean language, she immediately said she wanted to be penpals with me.  So we’ve been emailing back and forth since then and it’s amazing how my emails have progressed from being half in English, half in Korean to …

Learning Korean Through Translation

I’m a huge proponent of learning a language through translation.  In fact, most of the vocabulary and grammar structures I know now are thanks to my attempts to learn Korean by “translating” K-pop songs.  Not only did I learn new things, I also figured out what the song meant!  But, please note, these are all still amateur translations.  A successful translation captures both the meaning and style of a work and if you use translation as a means to learn a language, you can only hope to master one aspect at the beginner level (meaning).  Once you’ve mastered the language (if there is such a thing), you can learn to capture the style of the original work as well.

Thoughts on Thai

When I’m feeling down, I go overboard on movies and dramas. Actually since I started watching K- and J-dramas my movie watching has slackened a bit but once in a while I do get around to watching some good ones (e.g. The King’s Speech!) Anyway, today I watched a Thai movie: สิ่งเล็กๆที่เรียกว่ารัก (A Crazy Little Thing Called Love) and it cheered me up considerably! Aside from the plot (which is simple, sweet, and makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside), one of the best things about this movie was just the language it was in – Thai. It was my first time hearing the Thai language and I was pleasantly surprised. I guess I thought it would sound more like Vietnamese but to my untrained ear, the tones sounded more like Chinese? (I don’t know. I could be wrong – the only Vietnamese I’ve really heard is when my friends talk to their parents. Interestingly, I know that Vietnamese has a lot of words that have Chinese roots but a Vietnamese friend of mine …

Drama: Biscuit Teacher & Star Candy

I like watching two dramas at the same time – a new one that’s currently airing and an old one to watch while I’m waiting for episodes/subs.  In the middle of Dream High, I started watching 건빵선생과 별사탕 (SBS 2005), which is literally translated as Biscuit Teacher and Star Candy but is often also known as Hello My Teacher.  Oh my gosh.  I love this drama so much.  I can’t even articulate how much I love it, especially the adorable, happily-ever-after ending.  It’s easily one of the best dramas I’ve ever seen!


Learning Japanese?  Have an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad?  Then you have to check out this app!  Kotoba! is one of the best electronic dictionaries I’ve ever come across – scratch that, it’s possibly the best overall app that I’ve ever come across.  I use it almost every single day and it’s helped me tremendously with my Japanese. Features: Look up words in either Japanese or English Look up a word using Kanji (make sure to install the Traditional Chinese keyboard on your device), kana, or Romaji (yes, even Romaji!) In each entry, you get the reading, the part of speech, the major conjugations (if it’s a verb), the type of adjective (い- or な-), example sentences, and Kanji decomposition. If it’s a verb you can view the following conjugations:  present/future tense, past tense, continuative/て-form, presumptive, past presumptive, provisional, conditional, and alternative forms. If it’s a compound word, you can click on the individual Kanji and get 音読み (onyomi) and 訓読み (kunyomi) readings IN ADDITION to pinyin and Korean readings! MY FAVORITE FEATURE:  Animations of Kanji stroke …


I am currently SUPER EXCITED because the Korean novels that I bought online last week just arrived in the mail a few days ago!  On Shanna’s recommendation, I bought Big Bang’s biography 세상에 너를 소리쳐! I’ve already paged through a bit of it and I’m surprised how much I can understand.  It’s awesome getting to know more about my favorite K-pop boys AND learn some new Korean words while I’m at it.  Obviously reading prose like this is more complicated than reading 만화 so it’s sometimes a challenge getting through long, dependent-clause heavy sentences.  But for a beginner, this can be great reading practice.  I also bought 성균관 유생들의 나날 volume 1 – the novel that inspired one of my most favorite dramas ever Sungkyunkwan Scandal (KBS 2010). I’ve read a couple pages of this novel and I already know it’s WAY beyond my reading level.  I’m usually okay with the dialogue bits but in the prose, I have to literally look up every other word.  But it’s okay.  I’m sure it’ll get better as my Korean …