Hogwan Unfunnies: 젤리코끼리 블루스가 이에요

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on August 29, 2016 by shenanitim

Translation: The Jelly Elephant Blues.


“My neighbor has a jelly elephant.”

“Your neighbor has a jelly elephant? No, I’m not accepting that answer.”

“Yes, teacher!,” followed by a chorus of classmates crying “Yes!”

Such are the pitfalls of playing “My Neighbor’s Dog” with 9 year-olds. Now, “My Neighbor’s Dog” is a game where you start the game by drawing a dog and saying, “My neighbor’s dog is so _________” (insert adjective). Then you go around the room, with the kids filling in the adjectives they know.

Sometimes this works out great. Other times, such as this occasion, it will start careening into a slow-motion trainwreck.

“Yes teacher!”

“Look, Tim Teacher is gonna have to say ‘No, that answer doesn’t make sense.’ And believe me, that’s a tough thing to get Tim Teacher to admit. But I’m drawing the line at ‘jelly elephant,’ even though it breaks my heart.”

ShenaniTims Vs. Anki: Round 11

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on August 28, 2016 by shenanitim

Two weeks into going through my Anki deck backwards, and while I don’t love the 120+ cards daily, I am loving the review aspect. While I’ve had plenty of words become suspended (which happens when you get one wrong too many times) and it usually doesn’t bother me, getting another crack at them excites me.

Granted, I could easily go into my Suspended database and reintegrate the cards again, but I’ve found with some of them that they’ll just end up being pulled again in a week or two. A revelation and dilemma that made me wonder: how could I reintegrate these troublesome words without all the accumulated frustration? (Since, even when you put an old card back in, you still know you’ve messed it up so many times in the past that it’s been pulled.)

On Saturday I think I devised an answer. Or a hypothesis which may lead to an answer. Thinking of failed cards in a different light; as cards that failed to make an impression on me, even though they followed the rest of my Anki rules (no English, only images, etc.). So what I figure I can try is to abandon the old images, and start fresh with new pictures. Try to scrub the stench of failure off the cards while leaving the meanings (and pronunciations) intact.

I hope this works, because I’d really like to eventually learn the word for “honest” without feeling like a dunce. Or prefacing it with, “Well, I almost knew that word, but my mind just won’t commit.”

In other news, I’ve apparently given up on adding new cards until I cut through the remaining 300+ new cards awaiting me. I’m still using the 20 new cards a day limit, which is making progress slow, but evenly paced. Though this tactic may be changing soon too, as I’ve noticed over the past few days that even after I complete my daily assignment of words, I’m still being left with 10 that haven’t been seen/attempted.

I suspect that Anki may limit card totals too; seemingly cutting me off at ~150/day. Which would explain why my “Forecast” graph has ~20 cards left in it despite my being done for the day. Now I could keep on as I’ve been going, just letting the cards accumulate with the knowledge that once I make it through the big “Unseen” deck I’ll have plenty of time to get everything to even out. But I’m not the patient type when it concerns schoolwork, so I might get annoyed enough by this “problem” that I’ll attempt a fix for it sometime in the future.

나는 매일 써요.

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , , on August 25, 2016 by shenanitim

Translation: I write everyday.


Okay, while that title isn’t exactly true, I did spend much of Tuesday (화요일) writing. It began with me discovering a spider hitchhiking on my bike’s gear shifter. A rather large spider, who, once I recovered from my revulsion, became my buddy. It just hung there, upside down, waiting for me to stop someplace where he could dismount safely. I, meanwhile, had something to focus my budding writing skills on. A win-win, even if the spider didn’t realize it.

The reaction to my story this time was a mixture of my first disastrous week, and last week’s. There was one editor who I feel (after translating the corrections) understood what I was trying to say, and another who was trying to normalize it. (If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you’ll know that normality ain’t “my thing.”)


I won’t go into a line-by-line breakdown as I did last week, because they’re painfully dull to type as they are (I imagine) to read. Instead I’ll jump ahead to this week’s big takeaway; what I actually learned from all the writing: a better understanding of Korea’s subject marker system.

In Korean, the word order, while typically subject/object/verb, isn’t limited to it. Instead it uses a system of identifiers to designate who the subject is, and what the object is. (There are designators for time and place just keeping with the theme.) So technically you could throw the words in any order, and still be able to piece the meaning together. It’s like using a LEGO-block language!

For me the issue has always been the subject marker. I’d get it wrong (usually) on two counts all the time. (I’ll handle the first issue here, and follow up tomorrow with the second.)

First 나 vs. 저. Both mean “I,” but none of my books explain anything past that. So I’d use them willy-nilly and hope for the best. Yet almost always get them wrong. As below (from Tuesday’s 2nd writing attempt, i.e. the one not immortalized here):


As you can see, I was completely off on my uses of 저 instead of 나. The short and fast of it is that while they are interchangeable, it all depends on the audience. 나 is used when you’re top dog, and 저 when you’re sublimating yourself to a superior. Since the audience here is unknown, I should’ve defaulted to top status 나.

Not too difficult, and something that can be easily implemented in the future. Writing in Korean just became a little less murky.

Korea’s Recovery/Independence Day (2016)

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , , , on August 22, 2016 by shenanitim


This year for Korea’s Recovery Day (also known as their Independence Day), I made my first successful expedition to a Korean Beach! This beach was Chaeseokgang over in 부안 (Buan); an area I had been in before when I went to Naeso-sa. (Check it the first adventure over here.) While Naeso-sa’s a great area, I love the mountain and its temple (it’s waterfall, though much idolized by me, isn’t the greatest thing in the world), also having a beach so close to home changes things dramatically.

I’m a beach kid. My family moved to Florida to be closer to the beach. Even when we lived in New Jersey, some of my earliest memories involve me being at “the beach.” Not really a beach at all, more like a watering hole, but you get the point. My mom loved the water, and that’s a trait I’ve picked up.

Chaeseokgang’s beach isn’t FL level. If comparisons had to be made, I’d rank it around Port Charlotte’s own, oft-maligned, “beach.” There wasn’t much sand (one assumes that’s over in the famous Busan), but a lot of cool looking rocks to climb around on. (Port Charlotte’s beach is generally unloved because the water’s brown. The beach is located where the Peace River hits the Gulf of Mexico, which causes all the sediment to rise up and muck about.)

Chaeseokgang also has boat rides though, and a dam that transformed an outlying island into part of the mainland! Which, as far as fantastic stories go, turning a section of “sea” into “farmland” certainly ranks up there.

And if it isn’t immediately noticeable, I’m completely and totally in love with the new camera’s panoramic feature.


ShenaniTims Vs. Anki: Round 10

Posted in Free-Range Tampa, Hogwan Hijinks! with tags , , , , , on August 21, 2016 by shenanitim

Let it be known that I’m a creature of habit. So starting off this week’s Anki recap with the slides in the “wrong” order bugs me to no end. Bugs me even though I realize that I’m really the only one reading these entries. A fact that’ll just make this week’s lack of order all the more galling.

However I feel this week’s change in presentation is needed; as your eyes are not deceiving you. See that tall line in the “Added” pic? Now quickly scan to the “Cards” axis on the left. That’s right, last Thursday (목요일) I ended up adding over 500 cards to my Anki deck.


So one feature that Anki contains, that I was failing to exploit, was the ability to easily make flashcards that are viewed backwards. Normally the deck shows me a picture, I say what I believe is the answer, and then the deck shows the correct answer along with the proper pronunciation (if I can find a sample). This system, as I’ve been documenting weekly, seems to have been working great for me.

Yet there was always that final, backwards card,ability that was nagging away in the back of my mind. Where the deck will show/pronounce the answer, leaving me to say what the image will be. While I didn’t think such a deck modification would be too tough, I also didn’t want to mess with a good thing. Leave well enough alone, at least until I stumbled across Fluent Forever‘s instructions on how to enact such a change.

To think that with just a few small clicks, I’d be able to lay this nagging sensation to rest forever!

Unfortunately, while I was able to make mirror cards for all my existing flashcards, I wasn’t able to limit the number of cards created. I was hoping to mirror only cards with certain “tags;” thus enabling me to keep the amount of new cards rather low.


I had found that by limiting the number of new cards to around 10-15/day, I could more easily learn them. It turns out Anki doesn’t let you cherrypick the tags though. It’s all or nothing; meaning my deck doubled in size in a day. Given that the Anki program limits the amount of new cards you’ll see each day (to around 20 by default, though this number can be modified),  I’ll be seeing a full “New Card” queue for months to come.

The one upside to all this will be removing my previous 10-15/day limitation. New cards that are truly “new” (i.e. unknown to me) get mixed with the mass of older cards whose form is new, thus making the inevitable task of cutting through 20 cards less daunting. Now I can throw in as many (brand) new cards into the deck as I want!

저는 바보캍은 남자에요

Posted in Free-Range Tampa, Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on August 18, 2016 by shenanitim

(Tentative) Translation: I am a foolish man.

(Post-correction revision: So I was almost correct with my title. I’ve found learning spacing in Korean is tough, as sometimes words are linked while in others they’re not. It appears that learning to differentiate is going to take awhile. Here 바보캍은남자에요 (foolishman) should’ve been 바보캍은 남자에요 (foolish man).)


My renewed dedication to Lang-8 hasn’t flagged, even if I didn’t get a chance to post anything last week. The lack of updates stems from the fact that I spent last weekend up by Camp David in 동두천 (Dongducheon) with friends. The trip back to 전주 (Jeonju) took longer than I expected, so while I did manage to write down the weekend’s exploits in Korean, I did not have enough time to post it before class.

So my teacher had the “privilege” of correcting it herself! A task I can only assume she totally enjoyed.

This week returned me to Lang-8’s horrifying confines. Don’t get me wrong, the website is an invaluable tool when trying to learn a new language. But damn is it horrifying when you post your hard work and just wait for the notification that it’s been corrected, and by “corrected” I mean ripped to shreds.

This week I attempted to use the past tense in Korean, recalling two days’ worth of events:


I’ll update this post (and hopefully remove the “Tentative” translation disclaimer once corrections arrive.

(Wow, two corrections as I was typing the entry above. Now to summon the courage to open said corrections and see all the red.)



— Two differing corrections for my first line: 오늘 저는 의사를 갔아요 (Today I went to the doctor.) The first corrected it as 오늘 저는 병원에 갔아요 (Today I went to the hospital – not technically true, since the doctor’s office isn’t a hospital), and the second as 오늘 저는 의사를 찾아갔아요 (Today I found a doctor – again, not technically true, as I’m quite familiar with my doctor and his office.) This one’s tough; maybe the phrase “I went to the doctor’s ” just doesn’t exist here?

— Line 2 (의사: “칠울에 매일 저는 자전거를 탔어요?7월에 매일 자전거를 탔어요?”) has a clear winner.

The first, 7월에 매일 자전거를 탔어요?, doesn’t seem to work because it has the doctor (의가) asking me, “I rode a bike every day in July?” So the subject (me) is off.

“칠월에 당신은 매일 자전거를 탔어요?” hits the nail on the head, and points out that I misspelt July (칠월 not 칠을) and helpfully adds that the “You” pronoun is 당신; good to know!

— Line 3’s (“더운있었어요?”) corrections were unanimous. It should’ve been “덥지 않았나요?” Translated, the corrections break down into “Did not hot?,” which, once you adjust for word order, would come closer to the desired “Wasn’t it hot?” than my “It was hot?”

— Line 4 (팀: “로마 교황이 삼림지대에 용가해요?”) is my zinger. It’s me attempting to translate a brilliant Steve Martin line (“Does the Pope shit in the woods?”). Same as with Line 2, there’s a clear winner here, and it’s the same editor as before. And as the same with the first line, it’s my inability to properly space words yet. Frankly, 용가해요 should’ve been 용가를 해요. Spacing for the win.

— Line 5 (제 친구와 저는 매밤 가요) was my attempt to say “My friend and I go out every night.”

제 친구와 저는 매일 밤 밖에 나가요.
제 친구와 저는 매일 밤 외출을 해요.

I’m giving the nod to the first correction as it corrects my use of 가다 (to go) to 나가다 (to go out). Both helpfully point out the “every night” should be “매일 밤” which technically breaks down into “everyday night;” which seems strange, but that’s why I do these exercises. To learn these details.

— Line 6’s (우리는 페트남식당에 갔어요; We went to a Vietnamese restaurant) corrections are near unanimous yet again. Rather than a spacing mistake, here it’s a spelling mistake. “베트남” not “페트남,” which makes sense in hindsight. ㅂ sounds like a mix between “b” and “p,” thus defaulting closer to a “v” than ㅍ’s hard “p” sound.

— Line 7 (저는 식당을 좋아해요; I like the restaurant) finds an easy corrections with 저는 그 식당을 좋아해요 (I like this restaurant). The other correction has 저는 그 식당이 좋았어요 (I liked this restaurant) which in my mind works the same.

The only factor to note here is that I believe the verb 좋아하다 should conjugate to 좋아했어요, not 좋았어요. Which might again break down to language idiosyncrasies. I can ask about it at class this week.

국립중앙박물관 – 2016 Summer Vacation (the 2nd Trip)

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on August 15, 2016 by shenanitim

On the final day of 2016’s Summer Vacation, I returned to Korea’s National Museum; this time bringing along my friend to add to the “fun.” He can read Mandarin, so having him along is an invaluable aid. He’s also a huge nerd like me, which is a huge bonus when you’re going back to a place so loaded with knowledge.

And make no mistakes about it, Korea’s National Museum was still as HUGE as it was the day before. On my first trip there I spent 4-5 hours only exploring the first floor. (Okay, and also the special exhibition hall.) While the first floor was focused primarily on Korean history, the 2nd floor’s focus lies on various donated galleries and painting collections.

I’m on the fence about which level I liked better, since the first floor’s chronology can make parts rather boring (I could easily never see another clay pot and be totally okay with that), but the scope of the history is certainly impressive. Especially coming in from, as I am, America, where our national museums cover a span of 250 years at most. Some of the items here reach back into the Bronze Age!

The second floor’s theme (various collections), allows it to avoid the problem of oversaturation, giving the galleries a nice variety. Even if some of the collectors had a questional preference for collecting tons of porcelain.

ShenaniTims Vs. Anki: Round 9

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on August 15, 2016 by shenanitim

It’s hard to believe I’ve been using Anki at least once a day (sometimes twice depending on whether I add new vocabulary or not) for 9 weeks. That’s over 2 months, and a lot of words to learn.

One thing I did this week that I hadn’t been doing real consistently was adding new vocabulary each day. Rather than wait a couple days for any new words to get “locked in” before pushing my luck, I’ve now decided to push my luck everyday, all the time. I think the giant data dump from last week was the catalyst here. If getting 20-25 new words each day for two days didn’t completely destroy my accuracy rating, then I’m willing to bet 7 new words a day won’t either.

I’ve been using vocabulary taken from Fluent Forever’s The Most Awesome Word List You Have Ever Seen. While I’m not too big a fan of the book’s “become fluent in x amount of days” infomercial type advertising, the ideas behind the technics explained in the book Fluent Forever do make sense to me.

As mentioned above, there are usually 6-7 words per day, all joined thematically (to help with memorization) while also being different enough that you won’t get confuse any for the other. Sadly, as is plainly obvious, I failed to add anything new on Saturday, as I was on vacation in Seoul and quite far away from my computer.

To make up for it I wrote a giant collection of sentences. I’ll cover the whole ordeal in length later, but for now all you need to know is that while I’m hell-bent on learning new vocabulary, I’m also steadily losing the ability to spell the words I already know. Hopefully as I start carving more and more time out of my day for focused Korean practice, I’ll also be able to make a little room for consistent spelling practice.


Posted in Free-Range Tampa, Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on August 9, 2016 by shenanitim

Translation: Verb(s).

No homework makes ShenaniTims an antsy boy. As mentioned earlier, I decided to get a jump start on my upcoming chapter and its vocabulary, but even then there’s no real meat. Which is what makes having an accessible Korean-learning partner in crime so invaluable.

While walking around Jeonju looking for the night’s dinner spot, my friend asked me if I was interested in learning how to conjugate Korean verbs. (I believe I had mentioned that I wanted to practice conjugating in the present tense, but I was having problems because my book only teaches one of the four conjugations.)

Working while knowing that knowldge is being withheld from you is incredibly frustrating, so naturally I jumped at the chance to learn more.


So it turns out that conjugating Korean verbs in the present tense is almost insanely simple. Just a few basic rules to remember, nowhere near as difficult as you would assume after learning that your book is splitting the topic into different pieces instead of tackling it all at once.

So present tense verbs have four forms in Korean: the base (infinitive), informal, formal, and superformal. The infinitive is how you’ll find verbs taught in books (-다). The informal, used amongst friends has you dropping the “다” and instead adding “-은다.”

The formal is the trickiest, as it has a number of considerations factoring into how it’s conjugated. Essentially you’ll be looking at the last vowel before the “다.” If the last vowel is either 아, or 오, then you add a -아요. Any other vowel? Add an -어요; unless it’s one of the neutral vowels (이 or 으), at which point you add an -여요. Honestly, not that difficult to learn once you start practicing with it daily (see pic above).

Finally you have the superformal used for bosses and the elderly, or anyone you hold great respect for. Similar to the informal, just add -읍니다. See? Quite simple.

And that’s literally it. All you need to know. In Korean, verbs are conjugated according to the level of respect, not necessarily who the subject is. So there’s no I am…, You are…, He/She/It is…, nonsense. No plurals to worry about; nothing.

Using our “Be” example, but this time in Korean: 하다.

1.) 하다.
2.) 한다.
3.) 해요.
4.) 합니다.

See how easy that is? Now, for more detailed notes. #1 is the infinitive, so no changes made.

#2 – had us dropping the original -다, and adding a -은다. As mentioned in a prior blog, Korean syllables follow either a CV or CVC pattern. 하 is CV (consonant vowel) leaving room for a final consonant (ㄴ), thus giving us 한.

#3 – okay 하다 was probably a bad example, as 하다’s formal form is irregular. You’d expect the 하 to swallow the -아, leaving us with 하요. Instead -아 morphs into -애. So it’s irregular, but, as a consolation prize, 하다 (as the verb “to be”) is used quite often, so once you learn form #3’s special rules, you’re set. Making things less complicated is the fact that these special rules only apply if the verb ends with a vowel.

Since I’m feeling generous, I’ll run through a series of verbs to (hopefully) cover all the irregularities common to form #3.

그리다 – to draw
(So here we’re conjugating 그리,ㅣ is neutral, thus being paired with ㅓ will give us ㅕ.)

비싸다 – to be expensive
(Form #3 ends with ㅏ, which swallows the new ㅏ.)

바가지 쓰다 – to be a rip off
바가지 쓴다
바가지 쓰어요
바가지 씁니다
(쓰 ends with 으, which doesn’t pair with 어, leaving us with the textbook 어요.)

So these were just of a few of the potential tricky endings. Now, to further ease your pain, please remember that these endings only come into play when the verb ends with a vowel. If you’re looking at a consonant, then you’re still looking at the last vowel and following the rules: verbs with a ㅗ, orㅏ add on a  -ㅏ요. And all others (besides the neutrals mentioned above, and 하다, adding on ㅓ요.

#4 – the same steps as #2 above. Drop the -다, then hitch -읍니다 onto the dangling 하. BAM! You’re done.

ShenaniTims Vs. Anki: Round 8

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on August 7, 2016 by shenanitim

So this week was dominated by Tuesday, where I might’ve added the most vocabulary words I’ve ever had to deal with. Last week I (thought I) went nuts on Friday (금요일) when I added ~17 new words. Now adding this many new words can be dangerous, as I traditionally practice my Anki deck either in the morning when I wake up (for review), or late at night before I go to bed. (I generally get 4-5 hours of sleep per night.) Further complicating things is the fact that I normally add the new cards in the morning, and then spend the rest of the day forgetting anything new.

Leaving me with a boatload of new cards right before bed; when I’m usually struggling to stay awake. Not the ideal environment to be learning anything, let alone words in a foreign language. That said, it’s a habit, and who am I to deny myself habits, no matter how masochistic they are?

Because we didn’t really cover anything new last Sunday, I was forced to look ahead for inspiration. So I decided to get a jump start on the next chapter’s vocabulary and dialogues. I have yet to master either, which is worrying, but then again I figure the difficulty was bound to rise at some point.

This newfound/newly created difficulty forced a change in my Answer Buttons score, with my New Card accuracy dipping 2%, while my Young and Mature cards actually gained accuracy. So once a game makes it through the New Card stage, they’re in my mind for life. A fact that continues to amaze me, as I get more adventurous initiating conversations (albiet short conversations) with random Koreans (한국명).

Forecast ReviewCount ReviewTime Added Intervals AnswerButtons CardTypes


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