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The ’I Hate Korean’ Thread

 Language Learning Forum : Specific Languages Post Reply
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Kitchen.Sink
Newbie
United States
Joined 5453 days ago

20 posts - 67 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Japanese, Korean

 
 Message 1 of 131
01 July 2011 at 3:16am | IP Logged 
I apologize. This is not a thread for constructive discourse or personal betterment.
No, this is a thread for us sorry suckers who tried our hands at the Korean language
and failed. This is a thread for whiners. If you are one such person and if you have
the humility to confess to your own failures; if you have not enough stubborn pride to
plow ahead with a fruitless, perplexing language, please, post here. Let me know that I
am not the only one.

I have studied many languages to varying degrees of fluency. French, Spanish, Swedish,
Japanese, and Mandarin I have all become fairly competent in. Nothing, however,
prepared me for the enigma that is Korean.

The various verb and noun endings seem almost infinite, the combinations numbering in
the hundreds, if not thousands, but this is not the reason why Korean is hard. The
sentences are backwards, but this not the reason why Korean is hard. There are a
minimum of two words for every meaning, native Korean and Sino-Korean, oftentimes many
more than two, and using the wrong one at the wrong time will not result in awkward
speech like mixing an Anglo-Saxon or Latin-based word in English, but rather, complete
incomprehension; but even this is not the reason why I find Korean so hard.

After months of thinking about it, the reason why I find Korean so difficult is not the
complex grammar or the massive list of vocabulary -- it is how Korean is spoken.

I cannot identify word boundaries. This is a subtle point that most language learners
overlook because it comes to us naturally. "Je m'appelle Francois", to hear this spoken
in French is not difficult. Even a man who knows no French can hear the word
boundaries, and by that, I mean, even if he does not know what "je" or "m'appelle"
means, he can identify them as words.

With Korean, however, words blend into one another and sounds, very important sounds,
get stifled under the breath of speakers who can mysteriously hear through all the
mumbling. I have listened to hundreds upon hundreds of hours of Korean radio.
Literally, I am not exaggerating this claim one bit. I have been listening to Korean
news radio nearly everyday for three or four years. And even after all that time and
effort I still can only make out a few words per day. That's right, a few words. Not
sentences, not excerpts: mere words. I have listened to Japanese and Mandarin news
radio for a fraction of that amount and can occasionally pick out sentences and can get
the gist of what is being said overall. Not so with Korean. With Korean, I am almost as
clueless as the day I started learning the language, so many years ago.

Anyone else find him or herself mired in the linguistic morass that some call Korean?
Feel free to talk about it here. I suppose, too, if you have some piece of stellar
advice that will help the rest of us overcome our hurdles with Korean, feel free to
share those too. After all, we've sunk so much time into this thankless language so
far, why not continue ahead like a beaten mule?

Edited by Kitchen.Sink on 01 July 2011 at 3:24am

22 persons have voted this message useful



Minya

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