Year: 2013

Organizing new vocab

Part of the reason I’ve never liked formal language classes (or even textbooks, for that matter) is because I like learning new grammar and vocabulary in the context of original (native) reading material.  I can’t deal with “themed” chapters (e.g. “Chapter 2: Weather”) that force me to memorize relevant words from a word list. But my problem with reading original stuff is that I jump around between several different novels, webtoons, and news articles at a time.  A lot.  On top of that, because I make it a habit of jotting down words I don’t know, one page of my notebook can be a jumbled mess of words and definitions from five different sources.  This really really bothers me because I tend to learn words in clusters (e.g. learning the words ‘detective,’ ‘prosecutor,’ ‘murder’, ‘death penalty’ together because they’re often used in combination with each other).  So it throws me off when I’m looking over a page that’s half-filled with detective vocabulary that then switches to words about painting and geometry.  Then I don’t remember either …

Cécile Corbel & songs in foreign languages

Good music makes me so, so happy. I’ve been listening to a lot of “experimental” electronic, indie rock, and singer/songwriter type music these days.  When I listen to music in a language I can understand (English, Korean, and some Japanese), lyrics are often the most noticeable element of song for me and vocals tend to stand out against the backdrop of instrumentals.  But in other languages, vocals become mere morphemes without meaning, indistinguishable from the other layers of sound in a song.  A friend and I were discussing how sometimes we prefer to listen to songs in languages we don’t understand – for me, at least, it’s because it lets me interpret and feel the song in my own way without being hindered by semantics. Recently, this friend introduced me to a singer who, as she described it, has “the voice of a siren.” Cécile Corbel is a Breton singer and harpist who, in addition to having the most enchanting voice I’ve ever heard, also composed the score for the Studio Ghibli film 借りぐらしのアリエッティ (The Borrower Arrietty).  That’s …

속을 보여주는 속담

(Here’s a beautiful instrumental piece that has nothing whatsoever to do with Korean.  Enjoy!) I remember how I was four months ago and I tell myself that progress, while frustratingly slow, is being made.  And I’m not talking about Korean.   A couple weeks ago, I made a decision that I thought would help me get back on my feet and, while I think it is helping in some sense, I also feel myself relapsing for reasons I didn’t anticipate.  Getting though each day seems like a tremendous accomplishment.  It’s scary to admit that I’m going through something I arrogantly thought would never happen to me.  It’s scary to admit that I need help.  It’s scary to realize that I am, first and foremost, battling with myself.  It’s going to take time to sort this all out and it’s scary to even think about how to take the first step. The biggest thing I’ve accomplished in the past few months is accepting that I’m not okay and reaching out to people for help.  These days, I’ve become …

進撃の単語

It’s been a really really long time since I’ve been this obsessed with an anime series.  Last month I started watching Shingeki no Kyojin on a whim and… well, my life hasn’t been the same since.  Heh. その日 人類は思い出した、 ヤツらに支配されていた恐怖を。 鳥籠の中に囚われていた屈辱を。 On that day, humanity remembered the terror of being ruled by them, the humiliation of being held captive in cage. Thus started the first episode of arguably the most epic anime of 2013. SNK is so hyped these days that even I somehow came to know about it, even though I have been totally out of loop with anime/manga since high school.  I watched it with no prior knowledge of the plot and, let me tell you, that first episode sucked me in so fast that I spent 6 straight hours watching all the episodes that had aired in one day.  I resisted reading the manga for a couple weeks before caving and spending 2 sleepless days catching up on all the chapters.  I now spend a considerable amount of my free time sobbing over fan …

대기만성

Graduate school makes me sigh so hard my chest hurts.  It’s crushing to realize I’m starting my third year when academically, socially, financially, medically – basically in all aspects of my life, things haven’t improved or progressed in the slightest.  I feel myself unraveling. What’s worse is that Korean, which used to be an anchor of sanity for me, is turning into a type of anxiety trigger.  It used to be the thing I could turn to when my day wasn’t going well or when I was feeling stressed out.  In that way, I inextricably linked a cherished passion with my lackluster academic life.  Now my Korean immersion actually induces stress because I’m beginning to associate Korean with all the negative emotions I have for grad school. I’m finally taking a small vacation, and during the past weeks I’ve mostly avoided studying Korean.  Thankfully, I think it’s so prominent among my interests that it’ll be impossible for me to cut it out of my life entirely.  And of course, I have a lot of pleasant memories …

Status update

It’s 12:30 AM and I may or may not be eating Cheez-Its out of the box at this very moment. Lots of stupidity going on in my life.  Things have been tailspinning since February and I feel like I’m falling deeper and deeper into a hole I won’t be able to climb out of.  I think I’m going to have to make a major decision soon but, for once, I’d like to have the chance to choose one way or the other, and not be forced into one direction.  I dunno if I’m going to get that chance. Anyway, this is a little potpourri post about what I’ve been up to with regards to my Korean studies/immersion. 1)   I’m starting to regularly watch things without subtitles. It’s liberating.  I find that often I don’t even notice the lack of subtitles.  This is nice because many of the drama sites I was using in the past are shutting down (RIP Dramacrazy), and it’s much easier to find raw episodes elsewhere within hours of it airing in Korea. …

Korean pronunciation II: Colleagues & Pomegranates

Immediately after I learned Hangeul, I stumbled across a long, complicated list of Korean pronunciation rules.  It set off mental alarm bells.  Unlike Japanese kana, which I was learning at the time, Korean apparently wasn’t as simple as learning the alphabet and pronouncing what I see.  My reaction to these “advanced” rules was decidedly not to whip out a deck of flashcards and write out every consonant combination and pronunciation and spend hours memorizing them.  Rather, my reaction was to quickly close the webpage, forget about it, and get back to the Korean drama or podcast or whatever it was that I was listening to. Because, unsurprisingly, the key to really learning how Korean words are pronounced is to constantly listen to them.  Watch enough dramas, films, and variety shows and you will inevitably begin to pick up commonly-repeated words and phrases.  Throw in some light reading or textbook studying, and you’ll figure out how to spell some of those words and phrases (or vice versa).  Soon it will become apparent that some words have …

Korean pronunciation I: 파리(빠리?) 바게뜨

A Korean bakery called Paris Baguette.  I’m going to pretend this makes sense. This post is not a review, but I will say I find Paris Baguette to be fairly underwhelming and overpriced.  Does not stop me from popping in and buying about five red bean buns every time I’m in downtown though. My language partner Kwang-im and I have been here a couple times and she always makes fun of my 500% Americanized pronunciation of its name.  Parisssss Baguette.  Yet when we speak in Korean, I make conscious effort to pronounce it the way it’s written in Hangeul (파리 바게뜨), while internally chuckling at the fact that I am in fact saying Housefly Baguette.  Yum.  The pronunciation took effort, not because the Korean sounded so different from the American English pronunciation but because, for some reason, the aspirated 파 felt weird in my mouth.  After a couple times of forcefully emphasizing the 파 in 파리, Kwang-im gently told me that it is, in fact, pronounced 빠리. WHEW.  Strangely, my ears and mouth had both …

김예림 – “All Right”

Thanks to Jeannie, I’ve known about 투개월 since their Superstar K3 days.  Lead vocalist of the duo, Kim Yerim, has a sultry type of voice that’s sort of a mix between Mad Soul Child’s Jinsil and Casker’s LeeYoong-jin.  I’m not sure what happened to the other half of the duo Do Dae-yoon (I heard that he left to concentrate on his studies?); in any case, it looks like 투개월 might be morphing into a solo act.  Recently Kim Yerim – or Lim Kim, as she’s being marketed now – released her first solo mini-album ‘A Voice’ which is every bit as delightful as I thought it would be. I don’t think the title track does justice to her voice but I do relate to the lyrics – the song’s basically about a person pretending she’s all right when she really isn’t.  And man, is the music video… weird.  Heh.  Based off the comments under the video, a lot of people were complaining about how repetitive the song is but truth of the matter is, and …