나는 매일 써요.
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.