Month: June 2011

What’s in a name?

One of the reasons I love watching Korean and Japanese dramas is because language often plays a role in the progression of a relationship.  Sometimes within just sixteen episodes of a Korean drama, we can hear the shift from honorific language to polite language to plain language; and, I don’t know if it’s just me, but hearing the change from polite to intimate language makes me giggle and spazz and flail more than physical displays of affection. In particular, I love hearing the use of honorific suffixes.  I’m sure students of the Korean and/or Japanese language are no strangers to honorific suffixes.  In Japanese we have most commonly  さま (sama)、さん (san)、くん (kun)、ちゃん (chan)、先生 (sensei)、先輩 (senpai) and, unless you’re addressing a peer by his/her last name only, it’s pretty uncommon to hear a name without one of these suffixes.  In Korean, we mostly see 씨 (ssi), 군/양 (goon/yang), -님 (-nim), 선생 (seonsaeng), and 선배 (sunbae), which are similar to but do not directly parallel their Japanese counterparts.  Another related concept is that of occupational titles.  I know …

Learning versus memorizing

When I first started out learning Korean,  I learned most of my grammar and vocabulary by translating Korean songs.  These days, I pick up new words by reading books, 만화, articles, and watching interviews and reality shows.  But the critical question is, of course, how does one retain this seemingly endless onslaught of unfamiliar words?  With regards to that, I’ve seen that there are usually two factions of language-learners:  those who swear by flashcards and those who condemn them.  I fall under the latter category. Honestly, I like to think I have a fairly good memory (you can’t really be a scientist without one heh) but I just cannot memorize decks and decks of flashcards and store them in my long-term memory.  And this problem isn’t just limited to Korean.  I made about 200 flashcards in order to study vocabulary for the GRE but the only words I could remember consistently were the ones I had encountered while reading something.  Why was this the case?  I strongly believe it was because I was incapable of just memorizing definitions; …

Korean reality shows

As if being hooked to Korean dramas wasn’t bad enough, lately I’ve also found myself addicted to Korean reality-variety shows.   SIGH.  It all started with watching CNBLUE’s Jung Yonghwa and SNSD’s Seohyun on 우리 결혼했어요 (We Got Married).  I didn’t expect to be hooked but, well, I was barely one episode in and the damage was already done.  And now that one of my good friends has turned me into a legit SHINee fangirl, I’ve watched SHINee’s mini reality show 샤이니의 연하남, back from the time of their debut, and now I’m watching SHINee’s Hello Baby. Aside from being just plain entertaining, I find that Korean reality shows also help me learn Korean better than dramas!  This is because of the existence of WONDERFUL, GLORIOUS KOREAN CAPTIONS.  Most of the shows I’ve watched tend to have captions that either match what someone’s saying word-for-word or that summarize whatever is going on in a particular situation.  In addition, there are other words or word bubbles that pop up on screen (I’m sure there’s an official …

Fishing for compliments

No matter what language you’re trying to learn, if you’re learning by yourself, you’re bound to get discouraged at some point – especially if it’s a language that you don’t get to practice on a daily basis.  Unless you have the opportunity to communicate with a native speaker, there’s still a degree of unreality, a sense of “foreignness” associated with that language that I feel has to be overcome before you can aim for fluency.  For example, when I first learned Hangeul, typed my first Korean sentence, and submitted it as a comment on TTMIK, I still felt like I didn’t know what I was doing – until one of the teachers replied back.  It’s really hard to describe the amazing feeling of being understood by native speakers of the language you’re studying.  That, in itself, was a powerful motivation to learn more and to keep improving. I don’t live in Korea nor do I really live in place populated with many Koreans but still, as I learned more Korean, I kept trying to find …

Productive summer ahead(?)

It’s been a while since I’ve updated but I just thought I’d like to share some 빅뉴스 (big news) with all of you:  Two weeks ago, I officially graduated from college!  While all of my friends were rejoicing over the last lecture, last class, last exam of college I was stressing out about giving the commencement speech in front of about a 1,000 graduates and their families.  I actually made an audio post about my graduation ceremony and my experience being the commencement speaker, so if you’re interested, check it out!  And I’ll just try not to think about the fact that my speech and a recording of the ceremony will be posted for posterity on our college website. >< Anyway, this summer will probably be the longest break I’ll have in a while (in fact, let me just say goodbye to the concept of “summer break” once I start graduate school).  Since I start classes in mid-September, that gives me about four glorious months of freedom.  Things are a little complicated at home so …