Author Topic: Korean  (Read 682 times)

Offline Fleur-de-Lys

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Korean
« on: May 04, 2020, 02:35:34 PM »
I've noticed that the Korean language is gaining popularity among students. It is ranked roughly #11 among high school and college students in the U.S. This is somewhat surprising given the relatively small number of speakers and the difficulty rating of the language. It is classified as category 4 by the Foreign Service Institute, the most difficult category of languages for native speakers of English. I would guess that the growing interest in Korean is due to the country's economic success as well as the success of Korean popular culture worldwide. I know that Jayne studies Korean. Perhaps others here do also? I am curious. What inspired your interest in studying Korean? Which aspects of the language and culture do you particularly like? Also, in your experience, is the language difficult relative to others? (I have not found other category 4 languages to be exponentially more difficult than category 1, 2, or 3.) What exactly do you find difficult, or easy, or just interesting, about Korean?
 
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Offline Maximilian

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Re: Korean
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2020, 02:52:50 PM »

Which aspects of the language and culture do you particularly like?

I liked Korean dramas as good family viewing that emphasized traditional values and had strict censorship of bad material. Unfortunately, just in the past couple years those days have come to an end. Korea has become just as decadent as anywhere else, and the censorship has ended, so the shows are mostly all bad now. We've stopped watching Korean dramas.


Also, in your experience, is the language difficult relative to others? 

I know someone who went to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey for Korean, but was not able to learn it, no matter how much he studied. He was transferred to an easier language.


What exactly do you find difficult, or easy, or just interesting, about Korean?

There are several different languages depending on the social context, i.e. speaking to a man/woman, inferior/superior. This is an element of the language that is very daunting for Americans.
 
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Offline Jayne

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Re: Korean
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2020, 03:14:31 PM »
I first started watching Korean TV shows because the underlying values tended to be more socially conservative than Western TV.  Abortion is portrayed as horrible.  It is not weird to be a virgin at marriage.  Lots of respect for elders.  Etc. I suspect it was coming from Confucianism rather than Christianity, but it was still closer to my values than American TV.  As Maximilian says, this has changed in the last few years, but there is still a lot of old content available.

This exposure to the language got me curious about it so I started studying it. I have found the Korean language endlessly fascinating.  The Hangul characters that it is written in are arguably the most logical and sophisticated writing system in the world.  This is my first time studying a language with such an extensive honorific system.  Verbs (which include adjectives) are conjugated according to level of formality. Person and number, which I am used to conjugating, are not explicit but are determined by context.  Even the simplest sentence requires one to first determine the relative social status between speaker and listener.

The phonology is especially challenging for English speakers. The phonemes of the two languages just don't map onto each other well. Phonemes in one language are allophones in the other and vice versa. After five years there is still one phonemically contrasting pair that I struggle to hear as different.

Since I do this as a hobby, the level of challenge makes it fun and interesting. I can imagine that if I needed to learn it quickly for some reason, this would be rather frustrating.
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Offline queen.saints

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Re: Korean
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2020, 05:45:08 AM »
Mandatory scene in Korean romcoms

Girl to guy: Hey, how dare you speak informally to me?
Guy: I’m older than you.
Girl: How old are you?
Guy: 30
...

Girl, very formally: Oh, yes, you are much, much older, so sorry.
 
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Offline Jayne

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Re: Korean
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2020, 01:13:51 PM »
Arguing about what level of formality to use occurs quite often in dramas.  It is also not unusual for characters to be offended by others using the wrong terms to address them.  Typically the subtitles do not make clear what the issue is and knowing even a small amount of Korean helps a lot.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.
 
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Offline Graham

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Re: Korean
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2020, 06:15:35 PM »
I learned enough Korean to order food, find out where the restrooms are, buy bus tickets, that sort of thing, but not enough to carry a conversation. I am vaguely fond of Korea but I spent enough time there to get completely fed up with them and now I just cant stand Koreans at all, the fact that people would involve themselves in anything Korean seems ridiculous to me, when I see a group of them on the street (their looks and mannerisms are easily identifiable) it triggers a disgust reflex.. anyway, carry on
« Last Edit: May 06, 2020, 08:56:52 AM by Graham »
 
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Offline Graham

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Re: Korean
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2020, 11:18:10 PM »
This is a somewhat overblown but still enjoyable performance of the "standard" Arirang. I saw this troupe (I believe) perform live in a Seoul concert hall in 2009. Even as a pretty clueless foreigner it's possible to feel nostalgic for the Korea portrayed in this music and costuming, and vicariously through the ajummas singing along, and this is part of the imaginary Korea I am fond of even as a disenchanted miguk saram.


Here the same troupe performs the Jindo Arirang, which is a more uptempo version from the peninsula's south.


Here is the Jindo Arirang in a more fully traditional style, vocalist employing the sigimsae (the primitive-sounding vocal ornamentation traditional to Korea) much more vigorously and less apologetically, sans full orchestral backing.

 
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Offline Graham

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Re: Korean
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2020, 11:53:02 PM »
It is classified as category 4 by the Foreign Service Institute, the most difficult category of languages for native speakers of English.

I can say it's far harder than French, and perhaps somewhat harder than German, but then in some respects it's simpler because of how much is left for contextual inference, so for instance (as you may know) just saying the equivalent of "church go" is perfectly understandable in Korean, where in English you need pronouns, prepositions, and command of the present continuous to render that correctly. But I didn't advance far enough to offer a considered opinion, I just know that after the simplicity of the alphabet and single clause statements and questions (which is where I stopped trying) the learning curve steepens considerably.
 
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Offline queen.saints

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Re: Korean
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2020, 04:26:14 AM »
I learned enough Korean to order food, find out where the restrooms are, buy bus tickets, that sort of thing, but not enough to carry a conversation. I am vaguely fond of Korea but I spent enough time there to get completely fed up with them and now I just cant stand Koreans at all, the fact that people would involve themselves in anything Korean seems ridiculous to me, when I see a group of them on the street (their looks and mannerisms are easily identifiable) it triggers a powerful disgust reflex.. anyway, carry on

 Maybe that’s why they call it home “sickness”.
 

Offline Graham

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Re: Korean
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2020, 09:14:52 AM »
I learned enough Korean to order food, find out where the restrooms are, buy bus tickets, that sort of thing, but not enough to carry a conversation. I am vaguely fond of Korea but I spent enough time there to get completely fed up with them and now I just cant stand Koreans at all, the fact that people would involve themselves in anything Korean seems ridiculous to me, when I see a group of them on the street (their looks and mannerisms are easily identifiable) it triggers a powerful disgust reflex.. anyway, carry on

 Maybe that’s why they call it home “sickness”.

What do you mean by that?
 

Offline Gardener

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Re: Korean
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2020, 09:23:25 AM »
Graham,

The traditional Korean video you posted is fascinating. Almost sounds like a mix of Pakistani Qawwali and Native American tribal music.
 
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Offline queen.saints

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Re: Korean
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2020, 07:02:33 AM »
I learned enough Korean to order food, find out where the restrooms are, buy bus tickets, that sort of thing, but not enough to carry a conversation. I am vaguely fond of Korea but I spent enough time there to get completely fed up with them and now I just cant stand Koreans at all, the fact that people would involve themselves in anything Korean seems ridiculous to me, when I see a group of them on the street (their looks and mannerisms are easily identifiable) it triggers a powerful disgust reflex.. anyway, carry on

 Maybe that’s why they call it home “sickness”.

What do you mean by that?

When you said you developed a disgust reflex, it reminded me of how I’ve felt before in a foreign country, which made me think of the word “homesickness” and wonder if it also refers to that feeling.
 

Offline Heinrich

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Re: Korean
« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2020, 10:26:37 AM »
When learning a foreign language, the use of subtitles is helpful. I can't discern whether the target language dialogue with native language subtitles is better for learning than the opposite, but if any of you dudes is studying Korean, this movie is must, The Man from Nowhere.  Parts templated with the revenge element, but cooked up with gory fight scenes spicier than Ddukbokki and intricately layered with sweeter motives and characterizations than a full  접시 Yaksik.

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Offline Jayne

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Re: Korean
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2020, 04:13:49 PM »
When learning a foreign language, the use of subtitles is helpful. I can't discern whether the target language dialogue with native language subtitles is better for learning than the opposite, but if any of you dudes is studying Korean, this movie is must, The Man from Nowhere.  Parts templated with the revenge element, but cooked up with gory fight scenes spicier than Ddukbokki and intricately layered with sweeter motives and characterizations than a full  접시 Yaksik.

There are different benefits to different combinations of subtitles and language, so, to some extent it depends on the learner and situation. Pretty much any exposure to the target language does some good, so I don't worry too much about which is the ideal.

I usually get my Korean shows from a streaming service that has a "learn mode" (unfortunately only available on some shows).  It gives me both English and Korean subtitles, a sentence-repeat function, and a "click on word for definition" function.

I agree that The Man from Nowhere is very violent, moreso than I would normally watch. But, as Heinrich says, it is a must, so I watched it anyhow.  The Korean title of the movie "Ajushi" is a polite title for addressing an older man, roughly equivalent to "mister".  This is what the girl calls the protagonist.  It evokes a somewhat different feeling than the English title.
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Offline Padraig

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Re: Korean
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2020, 05:59:58 PM »
My all-time favorite Korean movie is Dongjaeng, which is basically the Korean word for miso paste. The English title is The Recipe, which doesn't carry the same sentiment (much like Ajushi). It's stunningly beautiful and peaceful, and kind of functions as a basic primer on Korean food, as well. I'd add it to the "must watch" list of Korean movies.

On Viki, it says it's "not available in your region," but someone with a VPN might be able to set it to Korean IP address.
 
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