Month: March 2012

Technical language

When I was an undergraduate working in the lab, my former boss was Spanish but was very strict about everyone using English and only English in his lab, which I can understand.  Research is a collaborative effort and it doesn’t help anyone if you’re alienating other members of the lab by using a language they don’t understand. Most of the scientists I worked with last quarter are Chinese and converse mostly in Chinese with each other and, everyday, I’m amazed that they can talk science in practically 100% Chinese.  It’s funny and interesting at the same time to hear things like “Something something something TRANSGENIC MICE something something BIOTINYLATED something….”  It makes me wonder how flexible a language is about “inventing” new words as science and technology evolve. Japanese, for example, seems to be pretty generous about adapting English words (considering that they have an entire alphabet for foreign words).  On the other hand, I remember being highly amused when my mother said that a language institution? organization? of some sort actually invented Tamil words …

Unfakeability

So today, as I was taking the bus back home, I inadvertently overheard the couple sitting behind me having a very interesting conversation. The girl (her native language was probably Spanish, by her accent) was talking about the challenges of taking Japanese and Chinese courses at the same time.  She clearly had an interest in both languages but was having a hard time dedicating enough time to Chinese and her grades reflected that.  To that, her companion said sympathetically, “You just can’t fake a language.  You either know it or you don’t.”  I feel like this has occurred to me at some point or another, but for some reason, it struck me as especially profound today.  Maybe it’s because of where I am and what I’m doing and how I currently feel about what I’m doing….  Science, in my opinion, is very easy to bullshit.  With enough arrogance, people can seem like they know more than they do and mean more than they say.  Some even consider it a merit if you’re good at faking …

아쉽다

Interview Week came to an end on Friday.  It was an exciting time for me because I still have vivid memories of my own graduate school interview circuit (has it really been a year since then?!) and I was definitely looking forward to experiencing it from the other side of admissions this time around. Most of the graduate students in the program participate in Interview Week as student hosts – basically, our job is to accompany the interviewee to his/her nine interviews, answer questions about the program, entertain, and (most importantly) pitch the school. I chose to host Yekyung, a post-graduate student from Yonsei University.  I had an incredible time showing her around campus and by the end of her four-day stay here, we had already become fast friends.  In fact, we’ve still been in touch through Kakaotalk and Skype since she went back to Korea!  It just goes to prove that there are some people you can make an instant connection with, even if you haven’t known them for long.  I know regardless of …

Drama Dialogue @selfstudykorean

Many of you are probably already aware that a couple of days ago, Shanna of Hangukdrama just launched selfstudykorean.com, a brand new website aiming to bring together and unite the rapidly growing online community of Korean language learners. Selfstudykorean seeks to pool the knowledge and experiences of several Korean language bloggers, which will hopefully motivate others to find and develop their own effective method of self-studying Korean.  As of now, there are around nine main bloggers (myself included!).  Each of us will be contributing content from a variety of sources as well as from our own personal experiences as regularly as possible, in order to not only bring more content, but also to highlight that there are multiple ways to go about successfully self-studying a language.  If you’re interested in contributing, check out this page! I will be writing a (hopefully) weekly feature entitled “Drama Dialogue,” where I will take a few lines from a scene in a K-drama and then expound upon a single word, phrase, cultural or grammar point – similar to what I did a few posts back …