Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Intensive Korean Study: Week 3

Late, late, late! The theme of my week. I kept thinking I would get to this weekly blog at least by Monday, Tuesday at absolutely latest, but now it's Wednesday and too late to even be vaguely considered on time. Oh well.

I made more progress on the Korean and all, but am, of course, behind schedule. I'm halfway through the book! Yeah! But I also only have a week left. No!!

I blame it on the knitting. I've been knitting like crazy this past month, to the point of pure addiction. I know I should stop... I see the textbook glaring at me from across the table, the neglected schedule on my computer slouching in rejection, and the piles of knitted garments, symbols of the hours of life spent clicking two bamboo needles together.

I'm not a huge fashionista or anything, but when you see a mega awesome cute overpriced Anthropologie sweater selling for $200+, and you know you could possibly, just maybe knock it off in your size for a fraction of the price...

But enough, on to the updates.

Integrated Korean: Beginning 1 Textbook

As I get further and further into the book, the concepts get more complicated and dense in each chapter. While my one-chapter-a-day plan is generally working at the moment, I can already tell that I'll have to be spending even more time in the coming week. The current one I am on went through the numbers and counter words.

Korean uses both Sino-Korean and Korean numbers, and each set is used depending on the context. This is something that has stumped me ever since I learned them as a kid. I had previously asked my relatives for clarification, but none of them could really articulate when each set was used. Most Korean questions I have posed for native speakers almost always go unanswered, with him or her apologetically shrugging their shoulders. Granted, I wasn't asking Korean language linguists or anything, and it's hard to dissect a language one has been speaking all his or her life.

But in this case, even after dissection and clarification from a textbook, it still isn't really clear to me. I think the problem is that I'm trying to find some reason as to why people, animals, and items are talked about with Korean numbers and why school years, floor numbers, and the months and days in a date are talked about with Sino-Korean numbers. The issue, I guess, is not a matter of grouping them together, but rather an issue of my finding a method of memorizing which goes where. Without a kind of general system, it just doesn't quite compute.

I'm realizing now is that it's a little hard to talk about Korean grammar. Spanish, a language I began learning at the tender age of six, is at least somehow related to English; besides the many cognates and similar sentence structures, they share larger grammar concepts. Of course Korean has some similarities in having nouns and verbs and such, but sometimes the bigger differences seem too hard to explain.

Random note: I started noticing that when I'm doing my textbook exercises, it's hard for me to construct the sentences outside of the context of the book. Without the guiding exercises divided into each individual grammar concept, at the moment I can't seem to just pull the concept out of a hat and actually utilize it. At least not without some deep thinking, which could really be annoying during a conversation, to say the least.

Sometimes when I'm talking to myself in Korean (I do this, alone, in the comfort of my own home, by the way), I'll try to imagine some sort of scenario in which I might have to speak. I still like to think in English terms sometimes, and more often I'll find myself falling into Spanish and mixing it with my Korean.

Goal 1: Wean myself of this habit before my trip to Korea.

Integrated Korean: Beginning 1 Workbook

Eh, not much to say. Using it periodically, though not as much as I should. The real issue is just time management, as usual.

Chunhyang Project

Uuuuuugggghhhhh. A coming post (EDIT: Here it is!) will elaborate more on this sentiment; it has to do with Delightful Girl Choon Hyang, and it's long-winded. As far as the whole "late" theme goes, I'm really behind on where I wanted to be (in terms of watching the series, that is). I think I'll have to go on a drama-watching binge through the end of the week.

Let's Speak Korean

I haven't been using this as much as I thought I might. I'm thinking it might not be such a bad thing, however.

At the moment I'm studying really basic Korean, and I'm probably learning how to speak in a very proper, regimented way. It's how all language programs work, after all; one must learn the basics before learning how to screw them up with idioms, slang, and the like. I'm probably talking like a heavily accented robot.

Watching some of the Let's Speak Korean videos has, therefore, been messing me up just a little bit. They periodically use similar phrases that I've been learning in my textbook, but without grammar explanation. The textbook breaks down the sentence and teaches me how one may formulate it. Let's Speak Korean, on the other hand, functions more like a condensed traveler's program, like Pimsleur or something. As a result, it just teaches you the phrase as a whole.

In learning how to say "Where is [an item]?" for example, the textbook taught me one way, first by teaching the verb in an earlier lesson, then eventually teaching me how to use that verb in a question. In a Let's Speak Korean episode teaching the same phrase, it taught it with a different verb... Then in another episode, taught it with the same verb and form as in the textbook.

Is it 어디 예요, or...

...어디 있어요?

The issue, I guess, is that both sounded right to me. I was more used to hearing the Let's Speak Korean version of this phrase when I heard my relatives using it, but the Integrated Korean version I learned still sounded correct, just not quite as familiar. When quizzing myself, therefore, I would fall into the Let's Speak Korean version without thinking, then realized I didn't even know exactly how that sentence came to be formed.

I eventually learned the Let's Speak Korean, unfamiliar version in the textbook. I still don't quite understand the difference between the two, but I think it's mostly a matter of context with slight differences in sentiment.

This is a really long explanation to basically say: I was confusing myself. Let's Speak Korean is still very fun to watch, but as I said in an earlier post it's more to just hear and speak a little more Korean in your day, not actually learn any grammar and whatnot.

NOW Manhwa

Unfortunately, I think this portion will have to be put on hold. I might pick it up someday in the future, but the Korean study and Chunhyang portions of this project are the priority at the moment.

Again, here's a link to some scanlations of the manhwa. Unfortunately nothing new has been posted since June '09, but hopefully a group has picked up the project and will post in the future.


Another week gone quickly by! Not much to say here. Coming soon: My initial impressions of Delightful Girl Choon Hyang. They're not good, to say the least. However, I would love to be proved wrong! Hint hint.



One of these days I will knock off these sweater patterns, mark my words...

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