I think I’ve had three different 한국어 선생님 (Korean teachers) over the past five weeks. This week’s lesson was still good though, since, as I pointed out last week, I decided to take a more active role in guiding my education. Which may have frustrated my teacher this week, since towards the end he seemed a little either frustrated or annoyed, same as I was two weeks ago.
He’s a younger guy (I could probably safely call him a kid), and his English isn’t too good. (Probably the worst out of the three aforementioned teachers.) So there were plenty of times where I was asking him for clarification on terms, or just (trying to) trace the root(s) of terms I was encountering, and he would either a.) not have the answer, or b.) not understand what I was talking about.
Case in point; the new unit introduces two “taste” terms: delicious and terrible.
맛있다 (to be delicious)
맛없다 (to taste terrible)
Now, I already knew 맛있다 from the vocabulary included in what became the Great Preposition Dump of March or April. [Actually June.] What I didn’t know, however, is that the opening syllable, 맛, literally means “taste.”
Following this, 있다 (to be/to exist) might be a top runner for one of the earliest Korean verbs I learned. So you’re just adding “taste” and “to exist” together and you get “delicious.” I can’t explain the connection 100%, but I can definitely understand the underlying connection nonetheless. It’s a taste that exists, thus it’s good.
The new verb, 맛잆다 similarly jams together the new word (맛) with a familiar verb (잆다). Now I’ll give you one guess as to what 잆다 means.
If you guessed “to not exist,” then please continue reading both this post, and this blog. If you guessed wrong, please call whoever does all your computer stuff for you, and have them close your browser, erase your browswer history, and forget that the name “ShenaniTims” exists.
So it’s literally taste war between existing and not existing. DeCartes would be so proud!
Unfortunately, it’s also something only linguistic nerds will care for. Not a trick or connection impressive enough to amaze a crowd (of one) of fluent Koreans. So teacher was less than amazed at my “discovery.” Even if my discovery means I won’t have to worry about forgetting either of those words anytime soon.
I also learned (배웄어요) today (어늘) that I shouldn’t attempt to do my Anki deck when experiencing a low blood sugar. Because the indecisiveness and indecision that usually corresponds with a low blood sugar will also affect my memory’s performance. And given how low blood sugars need to make me (more) hostile, this ordeal soon balloons into something a lot bigger than it should. A lot bigger than “I should just stop trying to complete the deck right now and instead eat something.”
No, because at that point I’m now angry at the world, myself, and Korean. So yeah, if I can’t be trusted to count (in English) or drive a car, hold a conversation, or oftentimes walk, then learning another language should also be taken off of low blood sugar’s “things to do” list.