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전 그것을 이해하고 있어요!

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on March 16, 2017 by shenanitim

Translation: I’m getting it! (Literally, “I’m understanding that!,” which is as close as a literal translation as I can think of.)


No Lang-8 this week (or yet this week), but my Korean friends are more than willing to help in that regard.

One simple mistake on my part. I completely forgot that “to build/expolot” is 개발하다, and not 개발 (as conjugated here). So close, yet so far!

이것은 제가 이번주에 배운것 입니다

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on December 1, 2016 by shenanitim

Translation: What I learned this week.

The title above practically deserves its own blog post. Instead it’ll be placed here as the opening. My first attempt at the title looked a little something like this: “무엇을 금주 저는 배우었어요.”

Completely off the mark, as there was no subject, and thus the “what” (무엇을) wasn’t referring to anything.


Have I mentioned how much easier learning a language is when you’re friends with teachers in said language?

Now onto the show, what I actually learned (besides “이번구” which is “this week”).


Not the greatest showing (there’s no Perfects! there), but the last correction answers a sentence construction question I’ve been struggling with for quite awhile.

Linking verbs together in Korean is easy, you drop the -다 and add -고 in its place. But that links the verbs, like saying I bought an apple and ate it. They’re directly related here. What to do in longer sentences, ones bisected with a comma even, remained a mystery. Do you conjugate both verbs normally? Or is there some other way yet unknown to me. After trying to work around it for weeks, finally I dove right in.

I used “우리 동의하고, 그 너무 추워요.” Which would (word-for-word) translate as “We agree, and it is too cold.” The point gets across, but you sound like a broken robot. It turns out the comma there acts as a minor period, and you just construct two smaller sentences. “우리는 동의해요, 너무 추워요,” “We agree, it’s too cold.”

This might seem minor to an outsider looking in, but it explains a lot when dealing with the language. One issue I had was, would a sentence use “-요” twice? “-요” is a polite ending, so would you attack it the last verb, the first, or both? This is the kind of low key stuff that they don’t mention in books but can really puzzle you.

ShenaniTims Vs. Anki: Round 24

Posted in Free-Range Tampa, Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , , on November 28, 2016 by shenanitim

Ouch. Perhaps the roughest week yet. A new teacher, one which speaks nearly zero English. Making for a very tough class. Not to mention a very long class.

First things first, the teacher is super nice. So nice, in fact, that I occasionally started feeling bad for him about halfway through the night. He could clearly see that I was either a.) frustrated, b.) pissed, or c.) both, and I, being a teacher, know exactly how that feels. When you’re stuck in a room with one person, who’s just not getting anything you’re saying, and you’re at your wit’s end trying to make contact. Get some kind of involvement.

And that’s largely what it was about: involvement. I would routinely check out; just let his words wash over me as I stared blankly ahead wondering what time it was, and how much longer this would go on before the night’s dinner plans were announced.

Granted, part of the reason behind this was my inability to comprehend 90% of what he was saying, but understanding that slim 10% still gave me hope. I can remember picking out two words: 기분 (mood) and 나쁘다 (to be bad). So he was clearly asking me if I was in a bad mood. And I clearly was…

A big part of my attitude came, not from the teacher change (that’s happened enough recently to be nothing new), but from his ignoring my book. And/or my signals about said book. I follow a textbook. Last week we had almost completed a chapter. So I was looking forward to being quizzed on the chapter’s vocabulary (which I had been studying all week), fluency using said vocabulary (usually done via reading the chapter’s dialogue), and finally using the everything together to construct my own sentences (shades of my Lang-8 work here).

None of which was done. It took ~20 minutes to get him to look at the chapter, and from then on out he spent the time reading the chapter to himself, and then telling me about it in Korean. The chapter is on getting a taxi ride. How to get to where you want to, and how to say it. Not an unreasonable chapter considering how prevalent cabs are in Korea.

The first thing I was being taught, after my teacher determined that I could greet the driver, wasn’t telling him where to go, but rather asking him if he spoke English. We must’ve spent five minutes going back and forth over this. Me saying I didn’t want the driver to use English, while he reassured me that most Koreans (and especially Korean tazi drivers) know enough English to understand me. Finally I broke out my Lang-8 notebook and wrote specifically (or as specifically as I can write) “I don’t want him to speak Korean” (저는 기사를 한국어 안 말해요).

According to Naver Translate I was nowhere near close to being correct, but he got the gist. I think. Or maybe he didn’t, as I immediately followed it up with “저는 기사가 한국어 말해요.” Nope, that’s wrong too. Perhaps “저는 기사가 한국어 말하고 원해요” (I want the driver to speak Korean” or my closest equivalent (I want speak Korean and the driver). But that he understood. And we started conversing more and more before the bottom fell out (again), and I went back into my shell.

And this essentially sums up the night: me being taught things I didn’t want to learn. Followed by me refusing to learn what was being taught because I saw no point in it. As I said earlier, it was rough for both of us, as I’ve felt what he was feeling with my non-participating ass.

Which is really the one takeaway: I’ve now taken on, and experienced, the role of frustrated, bewildered student. Hopefully I’ll be able to channel this the next time no one my students becomes unresponsive.


저는 문장 간단한 말 수 있어요

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

Translation: I can say simple sentences.

So I’ve taken to writing more in between my classes. It’s a win-win situation, as I’ve found I need to keep the sentences I tell the students simple as they’re a.) children, and b.) learning English. (Hell, the “keep it simple” rule of Occum’s thumb works just as well with kids who use English as a 1st language.) So I think of simple (간단하다) sentences, and then try to write them down in Korean before the next class comes marching in.

Wednesday (목요일) brought the perfect storm, as class started off with me being questioned by my students in the most rudimentary way.

S1: “Teacher, you eat food?”

Me: “Eat food? Yes, I eat food!”

S1: “Gimbab?”

Me: “Hurricane, Korean!”

(The kids aren’t allowed to use Korean in class. Now this is probably an error on my part, as Korean food names are generally okay, as there’s no English equivalent. But for some reason I was being an ass that day. But it lead to the next round of exchange which totally absolves me.)

S1 [looking towards classmates in shock and disbelief]: “Korean? Teacher eats Korean food?”


As the evidence above shows, I didn’t do that bad translating this conversation. Granted, it was extremely simple, but that also corresponds to my level of Korean. I still have plenty of work to do, but looking at this, and thinking back to where I was three months ago, let alone two years ago, gives me hope for the future.

Not to toot my own horn (again), but even this post shows signs of improvement. The original title was “저는 문장 간단한 말해요” (I Say Simple Sentences). But that statement was too primitive even for my basic sensibilities. Then I remembered that I do technically know how to conjugate verbs to say “I can… V.” Here “to speak” (말하다) + “can do” (~을 수 있다.

Granted, it did take me a moment to remember the conjugation. I knew _수 있다, but had trouble remembering the ~을 onset. Certainly not seamless, but the more I use said conjugation the easier it’ll become to use.

단단한 일하고 있다

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on November 8, 2016 by shenanitim

Translation: Working hard.

Yesterday’s foray into Lang-8 land gave me a boost that I have to share here. So that next time I get bummed out, I can literally see the progress I’m making.

So I did my normal routine of writing a few sentences in Korean and then checking them on Lang-8. Nothing new there. What was different though, was how positive the responses I received were.

See? Right there at the bottom: 한글을 정말 잘쓰시네요. ^^. According to Naver Translate, that means: Hangul You’re a really good. Which I assume is what Great Job! translates to when a Korean who’s not too comfortable writing in English tries to create a sentence in English. Which, of course, is then run through an online translator.

But the intent shines through! And that’s all I need. A compliment is a compliment, no matter how broken the English. Especially when the messages I was getting before sounded like this:


Mr. Friend Says “굉장한망고 라떼가 않아요” (#3)

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2016 by shenanitim

Translation: Mango lattes are not great.



오늘에 저는 망고 라떼 한 병을 샀어요. (Today I bought a mango latte.)
그것이 응가인 듯했어요. (It looked like poo water.)
그것은 순한 초컬릿 우유와 망고 맛 같았어요. (It tasted like chocolate milk with mango.)
그것은 맛있지는 않았어요. (It was not delicious.)




네, 이제 찰 있고 싶어요

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on September 8, 2016 by shenanitim

Translation: “Yeah, now I wanna be well.” (Technically this line could also be spoken as, “네, 이제 찰 지내고 싶어요.”


I don’t want to say I’ve been killing it on Lang-8, but I am extremely proud of myself. I’ve talked before about the dangers of having one’s reach far exceed one’s grasp. So I’ve been trying to reel myself in; by focusing on simpler sentences. Sentences that reflect my Korean ability, instead of my English ability. (Difficult to do when you’re modeling sentences in your head in your primary language and then converting them.)

Last week my results weren’t horrible, nor were they great.


Corrections pertaining to the placement of subject and object markers, before I really went reaching towards the end. By no means perfect, but a definite indication that I am capable of succeeding if I work hard enough at it.

Work hard enough or lower the bar sufficiently…

This week I’ve learned how to conjugate verbs to create the phrase “I want to [verb]” ([V]고 싶어요). Finally, a conjugation I can honestly use! While I have no issues with the present tense, trying to write sentences in the present tense is futile. No one says, “I eat a pizza” (저는 피자를 먹어요) or anything else that simplistic.

Learning the past tense was a step in the right direction; as it gave my sentences a semblance of normalcy. Unfortunately, when paired with the (practically useless) present tense, even the past tense seemed to be showing serious limitations.


Enter the Ramones.

Nearly every Ramones song (at least on their first four albums) uses a variation of “I wanna…” or “I don’t wanna…” making them instant translation buddies. Can’t think of a sentence to convert? Just pull any random Ramones lyric out of my longterm memory and use that! Hence this week’s title, “I Wanna Be Well.”

The Ramones open up tons of translation opportunities, all while being simplistic enough for me to handle. Not to mention they sound great. So my childhood spent memorizing first generation punk rock lyrics is finally starting to pay off!

Hell, I’m not entirely convinced that I couldn’t make a faithful translation of the Ramones first album by myself!


Evidence of this lies in my performance on Lang-8. Four lines written Wednesday morning while riding my bike, with three of the four being deemed “perfect” by a native speaker. The only sticking point is the Ramones’ lyric, and even that point is contentious. As noted in my opening “Translation” segment, both 있고 싶어요 and 지내고 싶어요 work; their differences being similar to choosing between “How are you doing?,” and “How have you been?”

So I’ll give myself half credit here, as neither is wrong, but both can make claims to being “right.”

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.

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.

저는 한국어를 공부해요

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on August 4, 2016 by shenanitim

Translation: I study Korean.

Call it burning out, call it slacking, call it what you will, but I haven’t been pushing writing in Korean nearly as hard as I was, or as hard as I should’ve been. I mentioned way back when; when I had first initially started using it. It sounded so great, post in your desired language, and have native speakers correct your mistakes for you.

Unfortunately I quickly burnt out because I was attmpting to write sentences far beyond the reach of my grammatical skills. So I took some time off to lick my wounds. (It’s extremely difficult to go from writing in whatever tense and/or form you want to in one language to being stuck firmly in the Present Tense in another.)

Last Thursday, however, while riding the bus to Seoul reviewing last week’s unit, I was hit by a sudden blast of inspiration: basic, uncomplicated sentences. I wrote them down as best I could, vowing to attempt to make headway into Lang-8 once I was back in Jeonju.

Fast forward a week, and the day has arrived. Now, first some background. Last week in class I didn’t learn much. My new(est) teacher was absent again (I’m guessing summer break), and I was reunited with my original teacher; which was great. Unfortunately not having worked with each other in about a month’s time meant a lot of time was spent getting reaquainted. Worse still, no homework was given as the group is taking a campning fieldtrip this weekend. So I was spinning my wheels all week.


And the memory of Lang-8 lingered in the back of my mind. So finally, last night, I sat down and posted my Seoul trip’s sentences. And they came back rather successful!


As you can see above, while I was making mistakes, they weren’t huge mistakes. They were more akin to struggling to find your footing type of struggle when you’re first learning how to walk. Such as I typed 잘 instead of 잔 for glass. Not insurmountable mistakes, and reassurance that I’m on the right track.


I’ve learned the things I need to focus on are object and location markers (I didn’t use any in the sentences), as well as going over the differences between 제 (My) and 나 (I).