Book Review: 옛것에 대한 그리움

Before I start, an extra special shout-out goes out to my loveliest of lovelies, Jeannie, who sent this book along with a stash of other goodies from Korea.  She’s forever spoiling me with gifts.  I am so lucky to know you, dear – and not just because you’re my Sugar Daddy.  Haha.

I have to admit, I distanced myself from Korean culture and history during my first year of studying the language because a part of me felt that if I learned too much about it, I might come across as a Korean “wannabe.”  As it is, I still keep my passion for Korean a bit under the wraps, but I’ve come to realize that one cannot divorce a language from its culture.  The better I get at Korean, the more I want to know about Korea itself.

And on that topic, a few weeks ago while I was watching 아랑 사또전, I decided I wanted to know more about 고수레, or food that Koreans put out to appease ghosts.  I googled it, browsed  few websites, and eventually came across an excerpt from a book called 옛것에 대한 그리움.  The same site had posted other excerpts from this book and all of them seemed to be about certain aspects of Korean culture.  It looked really interesting and informative!

Author Kim Jong-tae’s primary aim in writing this book is to preserve Korean history and tradition in the current day and age.  In the face of rapidly evolving technology, our fast-paced, modernized selves often forget the religious or cultural traditions of our parents and grandparents – which means they will be equally missing in our children’s and children’s children’s lives as well, perhaps gone for posterity.  This book means to save that on the behalf of present day Koreans.  In fact, the whole book can be summarized succinctly by the its tagline:  잊혀져 가는 거의 모든것의 아름다운 풍경.

The book is divided into five sections, each having a certain theme, and each section contains several different Korean cultural/traditional points.

Each topic gets about a four-page passage dedicated to it, explaining what it is, where it originated from, and what its significance is.  Below is a snapshot of the pages describing 고수레.

Some topics even have photographs accompanying them.  This one was from the passage describing 쪽 (a woman’s chignon).

Other passages include 장승, 소리 (an entire section about onomatopoeia!), 바구니, 봉숭아, 놋그릇, plus tons more.

This is such a lovely little book.  A good, informative read, and definitely a good way to spruce up one’s vocabulary.  I definitely recommend it to anyone who has an interest in Korean traditions.

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 with 칠거지악.  I’m aiming to have my first post up by this Saturday!

That being said, I’ll still be active on this blog so (though I don’t have a very extensive readership), please continue to check out panjjakpanjjak for more randomness about Korean, Japanese, language learning, and language in general.  And, of course, be sure to check out selfstudykorean.com!  So excited and honored to be a part of this community.

타자연습

Thank goodness I learned touch typing back some ten years ago, otherwise high school and college would have been a very painful experience.  Much, in fact, like the experience I’m having typing in Korean right now.

For the past year, I’ve been using the “soft” (i.e. onscreen) Korean keyboard that comes with the Microsoft Windows IME – so basically, using my mouse to input each Hangeul character.  It’s slow and unnecessarily abusive to my poor index finger.  My netbook, which runs Windows 7, doesn’t come with the soft keyboard so I finally have to face the harsh reality of learning how to type again.  This time, in Korean.

A while back, I made my own Hangeul stickers and had them on my keyboard for a couple months before they all started to fall off.  That gave me a general idea of where all the characters are but unfortunately my speed and accuracy are nowhere near that of my English typing ability.  This clearly has to change or I’ll start to hate typing in Korean, which means I’ll start to hate looking up stuff on the internet on my own, which means I won’t study as much.  And that’s bad. >:(

But look what I found while browsing through the kids section at Daum!

 타자연습 (click!)

It’s your standard typing game.  You can chose to work on different sets of keys, an entire row, and/or simple words.

Individual characters are fine but typing full words are still really hard for me.

The only criticism I have is that game doesn’t actually teach you which fingers go with which key (i.e. pinky finger for ㅂ ㅁ ㅋ ) but if you are familiar with QWERTY keyboarding in English, it shouldn’t be a problem to carry that over to Korean.

I still have a long way to go till I can comfortably type in Korean but I guess practice makes perfect.  One more thing to add to my ever growing list of Things to Accomplish in 2012. ^^

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!!

Chrome Add-On: Pop-Up Dictionary 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

Lang-8

As always, I’ve been trying to find more outlets to use Korean and Japanese and recently I started using Lang-8 for that very purpose.  Lang-8 is a social networking site for language learners where you can basically maintain a blog in the language you are attempting to learn.  Native speakers can then correct your entries and leave comments and you can do the same for others.  You can also have “friends” who you can message privately and whose entries show up on your homepage to be corrected.  Video introduction below:

So far, I’ve written two entries in Japanese and one entry in Korean and all of them were corrected by native speakers within minutes.  Corrections can be made by bolding and crossing out words or by add text in two different colors; there’s really no protocol on how to use these correction tools, although one Korean speaker who corrected my entry came up with this logical method:  Crossing out and red for incorrect words, blue for more natural sounding words/phrases.  I’ve also tried to help out a few of my friends with their English in a similar manner.  Another great feature is access to a dictionary and Google translate (which I avoid like the plague) right below the space for inputting your entry.

Honestly, I think Lang-8 is a great concept.  Whether or not it’s executed as well as it could be is another question.  The website was launched four years ago and, in that period, I feel like a lot of improvements could have been made.  It’s kind of unattractive, little unwieldy to navigate.  But then again I’m not a web-designer so it’s really not my place to say this.

Lang-8 has really made think about English from a foreigner’s perspective.  I’m extra careful when I correct people’s grammar or spelling and I never try to complicate matters more than I have to.  Sometimes  I find myself in a tricky situation.  For example, I came across a post that was basically a recipe for kimchi fried rice.  In the directions, this person had written stuff like and “heat water” and “put vegetables in pan.”  That actually sounds pretty natural.  Recipes and protocols tend to be written without articles BUT does the writer actually know that?  It’s difficult to tell.

And now I have a bone to pick with native English speakers.  I find that all of the people who have corrected me on my Japanese and Korean are encouraging, gracious, and, most importantly, reasonable with their corrections.   That’s not always the case with English speakers.  Even when it’s obvious the person is only a beginner in English, I still see tons of English speakers who leave long, detailed explanations (in English) after completely rewriting that person’s sentences using advanced grammar and vocabulary.  I even saw one person literally say, “I can’t even understand what you’re trying to say.”  That’s completely rude and unacceptable.

Although I haven’t corrected many entries yet, these are the rules I plan to follow:

  1. Gauge a person’s level in English. – Obviously, the more the advanced the level, the more nitpicky you can get.  You have to gear your corrections and explanations so that the person can understand and learn from them.
  2. Correct as little as possible. – It’s really discouraging for a person (especially a beginner) to see their entry marked over completely in red.  If it is grammatical and it makes sense DON’T CHANGE IT.
  3. Avoid “stylistic” changes. – As in, don’t change something that’s in passive voice to active voice or vice versa.  Most of the time, that’s a stylistic preference and the meaning of the sentence is unchanged.  It really frustrates me to see corrections like this.
  4. Do not change vocabulary. – Unless it is really incorrect or unnatural (in that case, I usually make sure to indicate that “so-and-so” is more natural.)  But changing out one word for a synonymous one is unnecessary and might confuse the learner.
  5. Avoid using slang. – Or at least make it known that it’s slang if you absolutely must use it.
  6. Make sure your OWN English grammar and spelling is correct. – How many times have I cringed when a person has misspelled something or misused a word in their own correction?
  7. Be encouraging. – Goes without saying.  Be nice about how you make your corrections and then leave a positive comment after you’re done.  Personally, I always feel good when someone says 잘 하시네요 to me, even if I’ve made tons of mistakes and they’re just being polite.
If you use Lang-8, feel free to add me!  (Link on the right.)

Book Review: KLEAR Integrated Korean

About three weeks ago, I was super excited to finally get my new Korean textbooks!  I’d heard a lot about the KLEAR Integrated Korean series from a number of Korean learners online so I was curious to give it a try.  I know a lot of people have already reviewed this book but just thought I’d throw in my two cents.  Tons of pictures ahead…

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로서 vs 로써

I was reading 세상에 너를 소리쳐 a few days ago and came across a particle I wasn’t familiar with: 로서.  Obviously 로 is used in a variety of situations, but what I wasn’t sure if 로서 was used in a similar way or if it was completely unrelated to 로.  So I did a bit of research and came across an English blog post that did quite a poor job of explaining how to use 로서, 로써, 로인하여 and then went on to conclude that 로서, 로써, 로인하여, as well as 므로 could just be replaced by 로 colloquially.  Well, that sounded a bit suspicious so I brought up the question with CoreanBigSis on Twitter and, sure enough, that was incorrect.  As 언니 explained to me, there are SOME situations where 로 can colloquially replace the other particles and some situations where it simply cannot.  So, I googled something in Korean about those particles and came up with a really excellent explanation on when to use 로서 vs 로써 (which, I assume, are mixed up quite often by native speakers.  Like when English speakers mix up “your” and “you’re”).

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