Wednesday, March 16, 2016

When it rains, it pours...

I know, I know, I'm not the most constant blogger :-D

So - now it's Korean.

I have my strategy to learn any language.

1) Learn the alphabet

Korean alphabet is pretty easy. Basically. Or, the basics are.

Omniglot; Korean alphabet

Some interesting information there:

Korean alphabet was invented 1444 and the shapes are based on the shape of the mouth when the sound is made.
Huh. I don't see the connection.

It was usd by the "uneducated people", like children and women.

But in the 18th and 20th century, the Hangeul system developed into what it is now, by mixing the "baby-writing" with the "civilised people's writing" (called Hanja), which was Chinese or based on Chinese writing, which is why there appear today some unusual letters in Korean writing today. There has been some ups and downs, and today an educated person knows some 2000 characters, and well-educated people know quite a lot more.

It was written vertically from right to left like Chinese, but is today mostly written horizontally from left to right like English. Some people are even trying to get the writing to change from syllables to letters, like English, but that is not getting much support.
I agree with that. The Korean writing is not difficult to write nor to understand, so why change it?

The shapes of the vowels are based on three elements: Man ㅣ, Earth ㅡ and Heaven •.

Basic letters and Korean word structure

I am gratefully using Amy's Hana Hana Hangul (Hangul step by step)

Also, Ryan Estrada's "Learn to read Korean in 15 minutes" is of great help :-)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Some basic Korean to make the KDrama more fun :-)

At least to a language freak :-)





shut up!

get out!

let go!

I'll kill you!
내가 당신을 죽일거야
naega dangsin-eul jug-ilgeoya

In Korean, kinship terms are often used when speaking of non-kinship relations. A younger co-worker could call an older co-worker of about the same age "big sister" or "big brother", but it could be considered uncomfortably familiar... but keep your ears open when watching the dramas. These words come up often.

big sister
언니   -  누나
eonni (used by a female) - nuna (used by a male)

big brother 
오빠  - 
oppa (used by a female) - hyeong (used by a male)

Also, all older people are your "aunts" and "uncles". 
Interestingly this happens also in Finland, EXCEPT THAT IT'S ONLY KIDS WHO DO IT. For an adult to call other adults uncles and aunts - unless they really are your parents' siblings - is... well, either you are intellectually a child, or you are being rude.

aunt, lady, madame (middle-aged woman, my parents' female friend)
ajumma, ahjumma

uncle, mister (middle-aged man, my parents' male friend)
ajeossi, ahjussi

Read this: Korean pronouns

Another things that is being said all the time is:

I will work hard. (The formal way, used when speaking with your boss for example)
열심히 일하겠습니다.
Yeol-shim-hi il-ha-get-sub-ni-da.

I will work my hardest.
최선을 다하겠습니다.
chwe-seon-neul da-ha-get-sub-ni-da.

I will try to work hard.
열심히 일하도록 노력하겠습니다.
Yeol-shim-hi il-ha-do-rok no-ryeok-ha-get-sub-ni-da.  

I'll work hard (informal way, with friends)
yeol-shim-hi hal-ge

I will work hard, so please take care of me
열심히 일하겠습니다. 잘 부탁드립니다 

Yeol-shim-hi il-ha-get-sub-ni-da. Jal bu-tag-deu-lib-ni-da.
You have worked hard 

Other things of interest to know:
top 20 Korean conversational phrases you need to know
(It's on two pages, so don't miss page 2)

Useful Korean phrases
Korean phrases
Learn these Korean phrases first

13 Korean words we know just from watching K-dramas


Monday, March 14, 2016


So, I have fallen for KDrama :-D.

I happened to see the trailer for "Marry him if you dare"...
I thought the idea of a woman going back in time to stop herself from marrying a guy was fascinating, and the first episode was funny and engaged me enough to want to know more about these people.
Also, the show gave me a view to a culture and mindset that was totally new to me, but in a very easy and comfortable manner.
As the show developed... well... it developed. It revealed layers more than in an onion, layers and colors and tones and notes... and I fell in love with the Korean culture.
The layers of politeness, complex rules of etiquette and respect of age, so very, very pleasing to me.

Then followed "The Prime Minister and I"
Watching that show I became very aware of how... unsophisticated we Europeans are. How rude, vulgar, shallow, brutish we must appear to the Koreans... but also... there are things in the Korean culture that to me seem very cold, insensitive and inconsiderate... the... feudalism of values and how the complicated courtesy, politeness, respect rules made it fully acceptable to be a total ass to the ones below you on the matrix.
On the other hand... that was what we had 200 years ago. And that thought makes me less ashamed of our brutishness. Perhaps it's not that after all? ;-) Perhaps we are not that uncivilized, but our civilization is different?
Another thing that was very apparent in this series was the food and eating. "Hunger" is almost synonymical to "sadness" and "lack" in every area of life. Food is extremely important and works as symbol for... everything. By feeding you I take care of you and I say you and your wellbeing, not just the physical, but the emotional as well, is important to me.

Then I tried to watch "Cinderella's Stepsister".
I managed 2/3, then I went to look for a synopsis for the last episode and decided not to watch the rest of it. Very emotional, very irritating, rather confusing and very boring.
But it taught me things as well. It confirmed some of the points from the previous two shows, pointed out a couple of things I hadn't noticed in them, and made me aware of some new things.
How the rank system and etiquette are also a support and sort of a guarantee of rights, even to the  lowest ones. How is it that you can do seemingly horrible things to people and it's still OK, while then some "minor" things can be totally unacceptable. (It reminded me of Upstairs, Downstairs, and the relationship between the staff and the masters... how treating your "inferiors" as equals can be very inconsiderate, even insulting in effect... and about the European cultural elitism, imperialism, colonialism, orientalism... how we are expressing our prejudices and "racism" in things we do in all wellmeaning and kindness... I was thinking about European feminists going to Africa being all sisterly and trampling on our "sisters" by simply assuming "sisterhood" means the same to them as to us... We are all asking why "they" aren't eating cake in our ignorance.

Any way, I want to learn Korean, of course.
And I want to have Korean food as I watch these shows.
But, now I am learning Korean. The pronunciation is a huge problem for me. I can't hear what sound D or N is. And the elusive Asian R. It's really not an R at all.