I’m a bit of a language nut, in all honesty. The majority of my music is in Chinese or Korean (周杰伦, CNBlue and JJ Lin… and Vic Chou and ), the majority of my TV and movies are in other languages (Chinese, Korean, French, Yiddish, you name it), and I’m starting a collection of books in other languages too. My list of languages to learn (just in case you’re curious) is as follows: Chinese, Korean, Arabic, French, Japanese, Italian, German, Russian. If I can speak reasonably well in the first five of the above by the time I retire, I’ll be a happy camper. But today’s list is about Korean, the second of my language loves.
Reasons why I love Korean:
The lack of tones. When I first started learning Chinese, the tones scared me. I couldn’t hear them. I had no idea how I was going to learn a language when I couldn’t even hear half of what I needed to. Thankfully, I soon learned to recognize tones. That said, I was glad when I learned Korean didn’t have tones in traditional sense. One language full of them is enough for me, thank you!
Jondaemal and Banmal. For some these two distinct language forms might be off-putting, like trying to learn two languages at once–and when it’s appropriate to use them. But I love the nuance it gives to a conversation, when I can pick up on whether they’ve raised their speech or lowered it, and why. I’m definitely not very good at it yet–but that’s ok. It’s to be expected, and I’ll keep plugging away until I have it down.
Oral Similarities. Did you know that the Korean word for sun is 태양 (taeyang)? Maybe. What about the Chinese word for it–太阳 (Tàiyáng)? Or this one: exercise in Chinese is 运动 (yùndòng), and the Korean word for it is 운동, undong. Or completey, thoroughly, entirely. In Korean it’s 완전히, wanjeonhi. In Chinese, 完全 (wánquán) means the same thing–give or take a 的 (de). It’s always exciting to learn another language and realize you already know a few of the words.
The Written Language. Have you ever looked up the history of Korean’s written language? If you’re a fellow drama fan, maybe–or you’ve watched Tree With Deep Roots, in which King Sejong plays a role. King Sejong introduced Hangul, Korea’s alternative to the complicated Chinese characters they had used before. Basically, he created their alphabet, studying the workings of the throat and how sounds were formed to make it easier to pronounce. Looking at Hangul now I can even sense how a sound is made by the character. I’d never known Korean was an alphabetical (yes, that’s how I’m describing it) language, but I’m glad it is. One of the best ways to learn a language is by surrounding yourself with it–books, music, tv, everything. It’s hard to read a book in Chinese–you can learn the meaning of a character and not how it’s pronounced. With Korean, however, I can learn the whole package–which is good because you know me… I love to read.
And to finish it off, a few words I’ve learned from K-dramas. I can follow a simple conversation fairly well now, it’s amazing!
Pronouns, boy, girl, police, crazy, pretty, potato, friend, totally, to understand, everything, to eat, to see, to sit, to rest, therefore, one more time, just this once, really, truly, seriously, thank you, hello, goodbye, here, there, leave, forget it, together, sun, exercise, entirely.
There’s more, those are just the ones I can think of off-hand.
Thanks for reading,