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A Korean classmate in Hebrew class gave me a Chocopie today, and I couldn’t resist not taking a picture of the phrase on the packaging — 오늘부터 말 놓자! 요. ( Let’s speak familiarly. . . please.)


Fun translating . . .

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I had fun translating Edward Snowden’s Christmas message a few days ago into Korean. I find translating from English to Korean the most difficult of language tasks, but also rewarding because it gives me lots of opportunities to learn new words and ways of saying things.

I find that writing diary entries it’s easy to get in a rut and say the similar things over and over again. In the next month I want to do more English-Korean translation as well as paraphrasing Korean articles or books that I am reading.

Hi, and Merry Christmas.I’m honored to have a chance to speak with you and your family this year. Recently, we learned that our governments, working in concert, have created a system of world-wide mass surveillance, watching everything we do. Great Britain’s George Orwell, warned us of the danger of this kind of information. The types of collection in the book — microphones, video cameras, tvs that watch us — are nothing compared to what we have available today. We have sensors in our pockets that track us everywhere we go. Think of what this means for the privacy of the average person.

A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all. They’ll never know what it means to have a private moment for themselves, an unrecorded, un-analyzed thought.

And that’s a problem. Because privacy matters.

Privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be. The conversation occurring today will determine the amount of trust we can place both in the technology that surrounds us and the government that regulates it. Together, we can find a better balance, end mass surveillance, and remind the government, that if it really wants to know how we feel, asking is always cheaper than spying. For everyone out there listening, thank you and Merry Christmas.

안녕하세요? 메리 크리스마스.올해 여러분과 여러분의 가족들께 말씀드릴 기회를 갖게 돼서 영광입니다. 최근에 우리는 세계의 정부들이 하나같이, 전 세계적으로 대량 감시 시스템을 만들어서 우리의 모든 행동을 감시하고 있다는 사실을 알게 되었습니다.영국의 조지 오웰은 이와 같은 일이 앞으로 있을 것에 대해서 우리에게 경고했었습니다. 조지 오웰의 책에 나온 다양한 종류의 감시도구들– 마이크로폰들, 비디오 카메라들, 우리를 감시하는 텔레비전들 — 은 우리가 지금 이용할 수 있는 기술들에 비하면 아무 것도 아닙니다.우리는 우리의 주머니 속에 우리가 가는 곳이라면 어디든 따라와서 우리를 추적하는 감지기들이 가지고 있죠.일반 사람의 사생활에게있어 이 것이 어떤 의미인지 생각해 보세요.

이런 환경에서 자란 아이들에게는 사생활이라는 개념 자체가 없을 것입니다. 그 아이들은 녹음되어지지 않고 분석되어지지 않은, 자신만의 시간이라는 것이 얼마나 중요한 것인지 그 의미를 절대 알 수 없을 것입니다.

이것이 바로 문제입니다. 왜냐하면, 사생활은 중요한 것이기 때문이죠.

사생활이야말로 우리들에게 내가 누구인지 그리고 나는 어떤 사람이 되고 싶은지를 확실히 알 수 있게 해주는 것입니다. 오늘 하고 있는 이 논의를 통해 우리는 우리 주변의 기술과 그 기술을 규제하는 정부가 얼마나 믿을 수 있는 것인지 생각해봐야 합니다. 우리는 함께 노력해서 집중되어 있는 권력을 분산시켜 균형을 잡아, 대량 감시 시스템을 종식 시킬 수 있습니다. 그리고 우리들은 정부에게 상기 시킬 수 있습니다. 우리의 생각을 알고 싶다면 우리에게 직접 물어보는 것이 스파이짓 하는 것보다 더 비용이 적게 든다는 것을 정부에게 알려줄 수 있습니다.여러분들 끝까지 들어주셔서 감사합니다. 그리고 메리 크리스마스!

What my Korean Anki input looked like today. . .


Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 12.13.55 AMThis is what my Korean Anki input looked like today (for some of today at least.)

One of the nice things about Penguin Loves Mev is that a lot of the comic strips have English renderings on the side.  I take a snapshot of the situation, retype it in Korean (so that it’s searchable in Anki) and then the English in the back.

Today some of the words I added were 막론하다 (needless to say), 아리까리하다 ( 알듯 말듯 잘 모르겠는 거) ,  엉거주츰하다 (뭔가 하려다 만듯한 동작/어떻게 해야할 지 몰라서 어쩔 줄 모르고 있는 거) and 뒷목을 강타하다 (kind of surprised).

Listening content into Anki cards


Today I put a lot of listening content that I had transcribed before into my Anki deck — it’s not that hard to segment it, and I think it will be a much easier way to review the content and make sure any of the new words or expressions stick in my memory.

Today I segmented the Antartica letter and the interview about character education.

The last two evenings I have been listening to the book of Isaiah in the 쉬운 성경. I realized there were bunches of words I didn’t understand so last night I listened to the first chapter and segmented any sentences or phrases that I could not get. This morning I added them in Anki with the English equivalent verse. 

A few of the interesting words I learned from the first chapter of Isaiah were – 성하다 (to be sound (i.e. like in the expression safe and sound), 허물(fault), 약탈하다 (plunder, pillage), 상처투성 (whole body covered with sores). 

Importance of helpful and concrete goals


I was stuck by this quote reading the recent interview with Benny:

A: The most important piece of advice [in language learning] is that set a specific goal. Myth 5: ‘learn a language’ isn’t a helpful goal because it’s far too general. You need to set specific goals or milestones and come up with concrete steps and activities to achieve them. So instead of saying ‘I want to learn x language in the new year, tweak your goal into something like ‘I want to be able to learn x number of phrases so that I can start a basic conversation with someone.’ And then come up with actual steps to achieve your goal. It’s also very important that you check on yourself or get someone to help you to make sure that you’ve followed it through. 


Setting up daily goals and keeping them


The last few months there have been several study goals that I haven’t worked on half as much as I wanted. One of them is with regards to Hanja. I planned to study ten minutes a day at least on them. Another is Anki. Anki I have really no excuse because I’ve found even if I do one or two minutes a day it really helps me to be much more fluent and have a lot more vocabulary and grammar a the tip of my tongue.

But life happens and sometimes it’s hard to remember and then a whole week goes by and I’m like, oh dear, I haven’t done any Anki yet!

I used chains before to setup goals and keep track of doing them every day but it gets unwieldy when the chains get too long and there is no way to export the data.

Then yesterday over at EveryDay Language Learner Aaron wrote about a new site I had never heard of before — Ask Me Every.  It’s very easy to use. You put in a few questions (like, how much time did you spend on Korean Anki today?) and give it a time to e-mail you daily. When it e-mails you you email back with the time spent and it inputs it into its charts and graphs so you can login to the site and see all your data nicely and visually represented.

I’m going to try it and see how well it works. Perhaps if I log every day whether I did a bit of anki or not I’ll have more incentive to keep on doing it every day.

Diary writing


Diary writing

I’ve written 42 entries this month so far on Lang-8. As can be seen though, I didn’t write every day.I don’t really beat myself up if I don’t write on a given day, although I always like it when I do fill up day after day with solid blue.

Also, I don’t really consider writing diary entries as study most of the time (unless I’m trying to do some difficult dictation or something like that (and even then I’m doing the dictation because it appeals to me in one way or another)). Rather, writing in Korean has become a fun way to relax, wind-down and reflect on what happened that day or whatever I am thinking about.

*I wanted to try experimenting by writing this in Korean.

Diary writing

여태까지 이달에 43개의 일기를 랭팔에서 썼다. 그런데 위그림을 보면 알 수 있듯 매일 매일 쓰지는 못했다. 난 어떤 날에 일기를 못쓴다고 해서 자신을 구박하지는 않지만 며칠 연이어서 쭉 파란 색으로 나오면 당연히 기분이 좋다.

또한, 내가 어려운 받아 쓰기 할때를 제외하고는 대부분의 경우 일기를 쓰는 걸 공부로 여기지는 않는다. (그리고 어려운 받아쓰기할 때도 맘에 드는 동영상만을 받아 쓰기 한다.) 오히려 한국어로 일기를 쓰는 건 나한테 긴장을 푸는 즐거운 방법이고 일기를 쓰는 걸 통해서 숨 좀 돌리거나 그날의 했던 걸 아니면 그때의 어떤 생각에 대해서 되돌아보는 좋은 기회다.

**이거 원래 영어로 썼는데 우리말로 어떻게 자연스럽게 비슷한 의미를 전달할 수 있을지 궁금해서 번역해봤다 ㅋ

My kimchi

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A few weeks ago I emailed one of the guys in charge of the Koreans in Turkey website asking where in Istanbul it was possible to get 배추 (Chinese or Nappa cabbage). He emailed back right away saying that they sold it all over the place. I hadn’t seen Chinese cabbage in the several months I was here but after scouring around and asking at different shops I finally found 10 heads in a corner and bought them all.

I had made kimchi once before with 양배추 (the western cabbage) in Israel and it tasted good and fermented alright but it didn’t have quite the same taste. So I was pretty pleased they have the right kind of cabbage here.

Over 50 cloves of garlic and more than three big mugs of pepper later I had enough of the kimchi sauce left over to make make more than two kilos of 오이 소박이 (stuffed cucumber kimchi).

The cucumber kimchi is ready to eat after a few hours and the taste of the cabbage kimchi (after sitting in my room for two days and outside for two weeks) is just awesome. Now I want to try a bunch of other different kimchi and banchan.

떠남 (이용규) – Leaving (Lee Yeong Gyu)-


486182_10100838653737985_807283822_nOne of my goals for this year is to do a lot more Korean reading. I’ve started several books in the last few weeks. One of the books Is this new book by Yeong Gyu Lee. It’s called “Leaving” (떠남) and is about his spiritual experience living in and leaving Mongolia. He writes about trusting God through different sometimes somewhat incomprehensible situations that come up in his and others’ life.

It’s pretty easy reading with relatively short sentences and the vocabulary is not that hard either. I had started his other book 내려놓음 when I first left Korea but never finished it. After I have finished this book I want to read that as well as his sequel — 더 내려놓음. 

Speaking Korean I don’t know


I had a rather fun experience speaking Korean two days ago. I was mainly listening for a couple hours to a friend. I was tired and headachy so I’m not sure how good a listener I was but afterwards when I started to talk suddenly all the words and what I wanted to say flowed out very naturally and fluently. And the strange thing was I found myself using loads words and phrases that I really didn’t know on a cognitive level where I could give a dictionary definition or even know the English translation. But I knew them on an emotional level and knew they conveyed my meaning.

I kind of felt like I was watching my mouth speak without  knowing exactly what I said or why suddenly my mouth was using all these  words or sentence patterns. Then again at night in my dream I kept hearing myself continue to talk and talk in Korean.

I have had this experience before, but it felt rather more extreme than usual this time. I wonder though if this is eer how we often speak our first language — using words and phrases that we havent consciously learned or remembered and for which we often (when we think of it) can’t cognitively define. Nevertheless we eerily know what thoughts and emotion they convey.

Strange effects of Korean usage


It’s funny because I think learning Korean has somewhat ruined my perception of the sounds in other languages — I now sometimes have a hard time distinguishing ‘r’ and ‘l’ or ‘t’, ‘d’, and ‘n’ in other (phonetically easier) languages. I never had a hard time distinguishing between ‘r’ and ‘l’ before.

Similarly, if I’m reading or thinking in Korean I sometimes make ‘he’/’she’ mistakes if I try suddenly to speak in English.

우리 문학

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The Art of Korean Letter Writing


Since finding the Artic explorer’s letter to his wife I’ve been musing on how on how to improve my Korean letter writing ability. The nice thing about letters is that they use rather simple words (compared to say a newspaper article) but usually the words are used well. Unlike a newspaper article, the words have to convey some emotion and some warmth.

Imagine my delight when I found 15 longish letters complete with audio. (The audio can be downloaded using right-click and ‘save as source’.

In Korean it’s called 노래실의 편지 and it seems that they are publishing a new letter every week or so. Some letters are written from brothers and sisters to each other; others are from parents to their children and or between close friends.

I’m inputting all the text and audio into Learning with TextsThat way I can read and listen to the texts at my leisure, and easily look up words or phrases I don’t know. I’ll try to eventually put sentences with sentence structures I find tricky or words and phrases I don’t know in Anki as well.

Cooing, quacking and fluttering

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A friend over at lang-8 posted this list. It’s written for Koreans learning English but it has some interesting Korean adjectives.

coo – 비둘기 울음소리 quack – 오리 우는 소리 buzz – 벌이 내는 소리 barr – 양이 우는 소리
croak – 개구리 울음 소리 moo – 소 울음 소리 bow-wow – 개 울음 소리 boom – 벌레소리
gobble – 칠면조 우는소리 caw – 까마귀 울음소리 hiss – 뱀이 내는 소리 peep – 쥐 울음소리
grunt(oink) – 돼지 소리 whinny – 말 울음소리 meow(mew) – 고양이 울음소리 rap – 톡톡
slap – 찰싹 tap – 똑똑 pop – 펑 flip – 톡 튀기다 pump – 쿵, 쾅 dump – 털썩 thump – 툭
clash – 쟁강쟁강 crash – 와그르르 splash – 철퍽철퍽 babble – 졸졸, 재잘재잘 rattle – 덜컹덜컹
ingle – 딸랑딸랑 tinkle – 찌르릉 trickle – 찔끔찔끔 flutter – 퍼덕퍼덕 caltter – 덜컥덜컥
patter – (비가) 후드둑 ring – 땡땡땡(종소리) bang – More

Interacting with your diary entries


Usually when I write diaries I spit out what I want to write rather quickly, upload it to lang-8, and after it’s corrected respond to the comments (in Korean) and only briefly look at the corrections to see any mistakes that I made.

However I didn’t have a good way of reviewing the corrected diaries. I would sometimes for fun or inspiration read the old diary entries straight on the site but I didn’t have any systematic way of reviewing the words and grammar that I had been learned.

As part of my audio library I put it in Learn with Texts. Then I segment it line-by-line  with audacity, and put it in Anki so I can review it. I started this week and already have several diary entries recorded and about 30 cards (with audio) from my diary entries.

These cards really stick well.  Afterall, It’s my story, my ideas, my history. Read by someone else. These are words and phrases and stories I want to say later when I talk to people.

I also originally recorded with Rhinospike but stopped doing that after realizing that (unlike lang-8) there was no way to delete content or protect it after it was put up on rhinospike. I don’t mind much lang-8 readers or my friends on lang-8 reading some of my more personal entries, but i was about queasy about them being searchable on the larger internet.

Fortunately just as I was realizing it, someone on lang-8 out of the blue offered to record my diary entries daily if I would record hers in English. Of course I was more than happy to agree.  We paste our corrected diaries in a shared Google Docs page, and then record on a private audio recording on Sound Cloud.

Of course there is one main problem with using your diary for language input. For language input isn’t it best to use native-to-native resources? Isn’t there a good possibility that your diary entry will have mistakes?

The solution  seems two-fold. First, I depend heavily on lang-8. I combine the corrections I get from several different people there to get an entry that seems the most natural. Often I’ll re-post the corrected version on lang-8 again to get even more corrections that people didn’t see the first time. Then I’m fortunate that my friend who records the audio checks it again one last time before she records it to make sure there is nothing that sounds unnatural.

The second part of the solution is to realize that the input from diaries is useful but limited. It contains words I want to use, grammar that I’m trying to learn, (and perhaps most importantly) corrections to common mistakes that I make so my mistakes don’t get fossilized. And it’s recorded by a native speaker so you get native pronunciation and (somewhat) native intonation.

However it is no replacement to getting loads of audio content from native-to-native sources — dramas, radio podcasts, and the like. As much as I find a diary deck useful, I want to have a much larger deck of native-to-native audio content.


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