Month: July 2011

Chrome Add-On: Pop-Up Dictionary (via Jeanne’s Korean Learning Journey)

This is seriously the best thing I’ve ever come across. Thank you so much, Jeanne!! Ever since my Japanese-learning friend bragged about pop-up dictionary Rikaichan or something, I’ve been looking around for something similar for Korean, in vain… Until now. Seriously, why didn’t anyone tell me about it? A free Chrome add-on (though I’m pretty sure that other browsers have it too) allows you to double-click on a Korean word and have its dictionary entry opened right away, in a little pop-up window. Easy-peasy, and you’re not ev … Read More via Jeanne’s Korean Learning Journey

욕 (辱)

욕 [yok] is an interesting word.  I hear it in a lot of Korean songs and, more often that not, it’s a word that’s awkwardly translated into English. As a noun, it means a “swear word” or “curse.”  In the verb form [욕하다], it can mean “to swear at,” “to curse at,” “to speak ill of,” “to slander,” “to [verbally] abuse,” “to badmouth,” “to revile,” etc. It’s not that hard to translate the word when it’s in it’s present, affirmative form; the awkwardness comes when you’re using the imperative (i.e. commanding or prohibiting someone to do something.) For example, I’ve seen 욕해 translated as “curse me,” where “curse” sounds more sorcerous than slanderous.  Curse at me would be more accurate but that sounds odd in English.  As does “revile me,” “speak ill of me,” “swear at me,” etc.  Personally, I’d go for a looser translation and use “hate/despise me” or “scream/shout/yell at me” depending on the context, because the sentiment is the same (i.e. you don’t speak ill of someone to their face unless you (a) dislike them …

How many is too many?

As much as I love languages, I’ve always limited myself to learning ONE or TWO at a time.  I’m not sure I admire people who say they are learning six languages at the same time.  Mostly, I’m just skeptical of them. Personally, I think it’s okay to learn multiple languages at the same time if you’re definitely at different levels in each language.  For me, my Korean isn’t impeccable or anything but my Korean abilities >>>>>>> my Japanese abilities.  Now, when I learn new things in Japanese, I liken them to things I already knew in Korean and that actually helps me learn better.  It also helps that Japanese and Korean have quite a bit of similarities, both in terms of vocabulary, SOME general grammar constructions (though I find that most Japanese grammar is quite different from Korean grammar), and even some expressions.  So studying Japanese sometimes helps me reinforce what I already know in Korean; at least, it forces me to think, “Hm. Is there an equivalent expression in Korean?” or “How would I …

東方神起 – 忘れないで 한국어 번역

TVXQ’s 忘れないで (“Don’t Forget”) is one of my favorite songs ever by the first K-pop group I ever liked (*sob*) and now… I’ve tried to translate it into Korean!!  My Japanese is deplorable so looking up every single grammar point and vocabulary word I didn’t know was time consuming, but in the end I managed to get a sense of what the song was about.  Please be warned, this translation was only for practice.  I still have a long way to go before my Japanese (and Korean, too, for that matter) is good enough to provide a decent translation.  After I did my translation, I compared it to one I found online and I was surprised to see that a lot of the lines matched!  That sure raised my confidence in understanding Japanese and writing Korean.  Video below and lyrics after the break.^^ video credit:  s3adolphin  

Beware the dictionary

I’m having fun writing in Korean.  Whether it’s lang-8 entries, fan letters, random tweets, or me2day updates, I’m really enjoying the fact that I can construct a decent sentence without laboring over it for a long time.  In fact, I LOVE that Korean grammar allows me to write longer sentences that would sound like absolute nonsense if translated into English.  As it is, I tend to have long, adjective- and adverb-ridden, clause-filled sentences in English, but because of the glorious overuse of relative clauses in Korean, I can make my Korean sentences EVEN LONGER than my English sentences!  Haha.  I’m sure few native speakers actually write like that these days, but I like it.  In fact, I actually think that’s part of the reason some native speakers have told me that my writing sounds natural.  I might not have acquired a broad vocabulary yet but because I’ve somewhat figured out the cadence of Korean writing, I think I have a better “ear” for how a sentence “sounds” – and I think Korean sentences on average …

Finding a voice

How many years of study does it take, I wonder, for one to develop a “voice” in a foreign language? When I wrote literature or history essays in college, I never sat down and thought about how I should “sound” in my paper.  I wrote the way I thought my paper should be written to address the specified topic.  Depending on the topic, my choice of words would vary, but in the end, if you compared a paper I wrote for my Jane Austen literature class to my honors thesis about host-microbe interactions, I think you’d be able to tell that it was by the same author.  Clearly there are qualities in my writing that are different from others’ writing and vice versa.  My written voice – that is, the style, the choice of vocabulary, the cadence of my writing, general sentence structure, and tone – is unique to myself. I’ve been told (somewhat generously) that my Korean writing is good, but by that I’m assuming people mean that it’s “good for a foreigner” (i.e. …