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The ’I Hate Korean’ Thread

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IronFist
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4578 days ago

663 posts - 941 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Japanese, Korean

 
 Message 105 of 131
03 February 2012 at 7:47am | IP Logged 
Balliballi wrote:
I asked about the test and said, "시험" ("si-heom" or "test"), pronouncing the word as distinctly as I could, sounding out each syllable separately and slowly. The listener looked puzzled. After I repeated this word a few times, he finally understood what I was trying to say. "Oh, shom," he said, blending the two syllables together and pronouncing it as a one-syllable word. If I had slurred the word and said it quickly I might have been understood the first time I said it.

...

The word for "prisoner" in Korean is "죄인". I thought it was spelled as "제인" just from the way the word was pronounced,

...

Another word I had this problem with was "귀신" (ghost). I thought it was spelled "기신" and I spent many frustrating minutes trying to find this word in the dictionary, which I ended up not doing.


Even those example words you listed are so soft, such pliable clay. I've already forgotten them.

But if this was a Japanese thread I would remember them. Japanese words are so crisp and distinct.

Balliballi, I admire your dedication to Korean. I really would like to learn it one day

Quote:
However, I hardly picked up any Korean from listening to them talk to each other, maybe about ten words in total.


That's like me and Korean Dramas. Every time I watch an anime I learn a few new words, but I watched Korean Dramas for years and learned only two words, and I couldn't even spell them correctly.


Edited by IronFist on 03 February 2012 at 7:51am

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IronFist
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4578 days ago

663 posts - 941 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Japanese, Korean

 
 Message 106 of 131
03 February 2012 at 7:58am | IP Logged 
crafedog wrote:
I've seen this thread in the past and I was intrigued to see it pop up again.

IronFist has said it all perfectly both on Korean and the 'armchair' naysayers (I love
that analogy. Is that an actual American saying or is it based on the old criticism of
Victorian thinking?).


"Armchair quarterback" is a real saying. It refers to people who watch (American) football on TV at home in their armchair and complain that the teams are running the wrong plays because, of course, the guy watching it at home knows better than professional coaches and athletes :)

Armchair quarterback can refer to any situation like that, it doesn't have to be just football. It's anyone who, without being involved in something, is giving advice as if they are an expert in that field. But it's commonly used in reference to sports.

Here's a more crude definition:

Armchair quarterback at urban dictionary


There is also "armchair general" which is the same thing but with politics and/or war.

Armchair general at urban dictionary

I prefer the second definition there:

Quote:
a person who speaks authoritatively but not convincingly on topics that they have no practical experience with, (especially applied to advocates of war)

Example: This armchair general gets on the soap box every day now.


Edited by IronFist on 03 February 2012 at 8:04am

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crafedog
Diglot
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 3959 days ago

166 posts - 337 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: Korean, Tok Pisin, French

 
 Message 107 of 131
03 February 2012 at 8:38am | IP Logged 
IronFist wrote:
crafedog wrote:
I've seen this thread in the past and I was
intrigued to see it pop up again.

IronFist has said it all perfectly both on Korean and the 'armchair' naysayers (I love
that analogy. Is that an actual American saying or is it based on the old criticism of
Victorian thinking?).


"Armchair quarterback" is a real saying. It refers to people who watch (American)
football on TV at home in their armchair and complain that the teams are running the
wrong plays because, of course, the guy watching it at home knows better than
professional coaches and athletes :)
...


That's interesting. I don't think we have that in Britain. I had seen "armchair
anthropologist" before though in a criticism of some of Freud's work so I wasn't sure
if your saying was a thing in itself or originated from that claim. However, thinking
about it, I put the cart before the horse here and it seems that the expression I had
seen and mentioned above came from the saying that you used. Intriguing. I always
remembered that "armchair anthropologist" because it was so catchy.

(bit of a tangent here, we'd better get back to Korean before we hijack the thread)
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IronFist
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4578 days ago

663 posts - 941 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Japanese, Korean

 
 Message 108 of 131
03 February 2012 at 8:43am | IP Logged 
crafedog wrote:
[examples]


Here are some more fun examples.

N's and D's sound the same. For months, I thought the word for "yes" was "de."

Nope! It's "ne."

For months I thought the word for "what" (as an exclamation) was "bo-ya."

Nope! It's "mweo-ya."

I mean after hearing it every day (on dramas) for MONTHS, I would have bet money that "yes" started with a D and "what" started with a B.

For most of Pimsleur Korean I, I would have bet money that the word for "weather" was "dal-si" (dal-shi).

Nope! It's "nal-ssi" (nal-sshi).

I was like GTFO R U KIDDING ME when I looked it up in a dictionary.

Sometimes the word "mot" (cannot (do something)) as in "mot haeyo" sounds like the English word "boat."

Sometimes it sounds like the English word "moat."

Sometimes it sounds like the English word "boot."

It's not sandhi that changes it, it's just however the speaker feels like saying it.

That kind of thing applies to many syllables and vowels in many words, so for every "word" it's like there is a few different ways to say it and if you hear something, you have to work backward to figure out what word it actually is.

When I am doing repeating exercises, such as with Pimsleur, I just say it however the speaker says it.

So that means sometimes I say moat haeyo.

Sometimes I say boot haeyo.

Sometimes I say boat haeyo.

Understand that I am a very logical person, especially when I am learning things, I do not like ambiguity at all.

I don't mind multiple pronunciations if there are rules for them.

But in Korean, there are no rules, because the exact same sentence will be pronounced 3 different ways by 3 different people. It might even be pronounced 3 different ways by the same person.

Moat haeyo.

Boat haeyo.

Boot haeyo.

In my high strung nature, the only way I can come to grips with this is to not care, to say it whichever way I feel like saying it and treat it as a joke in the process.

I find language learning fun and I often smile while I am doing it, but I have actually started laughing in the middle of Pimsleur Korean because of the absurdity of the pronunciation. It's either laugh or get pissed off, because how is one word pronounced three (or more) different ways in the same sentence?

The only thing I can think of is that Korean pronunciation is SO vague that I am approaching it all wrong.

Instead of thinking of it as "ok, this word begins with an 'M' sound," which is far too specific, it is probably more like "ok, this word begins with a sound that is approximately what will happen if I put my lips like this and exhale."

I mean, M and B are similar anyway, the only difference is that you can hum an M but not a B (I'm sure there's a linguistic term for this, "vocalized" or something, but I don't know any of those terms). It's why when some people are done on the phone they say "mmmbye" instead of "bye." You can't hum or elongate a B, so it turns into an M.

Same thing with N and D.

But for the consonants which have 2 or 3 forms, it's the opposite. You have to be perfectly specific. And since our ears can't hear the difference, we're at a big disadvantage.

Then you've got the vowels. Korean vowels like to change a lot, too. I know sometimes "o" is pronounced as "u", such as "do" (also) being pronounced "du," whenever the speaker feels like it so maybe it's the same thing happening when "mot" is pronounced as "boot." I have also heard "aigo" (the expression of being overwhelmed or whatever it's used for) pronounced as "aigu."

It used to drive me nuts! Coming from Japanese where vowels are always the vowels they are, I thought Korean would be the same way. Nope! It wouldn't be so bad if it was always pronounced that way, but in Korean you can seemingly change it at will whenever you feel like it.

I really don't know. When I speak Korean now I intentionally slur. I say my N's like D's sometimes (on purpose) because that's how Koreans do it sometimes, so why can't I do it sometimes? I take it lightheartedly. I mean, it's not like Koreans are going to understand me anyway, so I might as well try to replicate what it sounds like to me.

I slur my vowels together, too. Especially at the end of a sentence. I try to sound like Koreans sound.

I don't know. If I ever get back into it I'll upload a recording of myself and you guys can tell me how terrible my pronunciation is. I'll do it the "old way" (proper pronunciation) and the "new way" (slurring) and you can tell me how bad both of them are.

All I know is Korean is too frustrating for me when I approach it systematically and try to treat it as if it has quantifiable rules. There are no rules to explain why one word has 3 or more pronunciations even when surrounded by the same other words even when said by the same speaker. The only rule the can explain that is that there are no rules, or that rules are extremely vague and anything goes.

Cheers to anyone studying Korean and MASSIVE respect to anyone who is making any progress in this language.

Oh, crafedog, I'll check out that "Sounds of Korean" book. Thanks!

Edited by IronFist on 03 February 2012 at 8:48am

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Haksaeng
Senior Member
Korea, South
Joined 4339 days ago

166 posts - 250 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Korean, Arabic (Levantine)

 
 Message 109 of 131
04 February 2012 at 3:47am | IP Logged 
I don't find the N/D and M/B that confusing, because they just sound nasal to me. If someone has a stuffy nose, N sounds like D and M sounds like B. Also, if a person says only one word, it might be hard to identify the sound, but if it's in a sentence you'll know what it is.

Depending on the level you've reached in your Korean studies, these things have a way of working themselves out, and what seems like a big problem ends up being not a big deal just a few weeks later. In fact, I think the N/D and M/B thing is funny because I've studied Korean for a while and never even noticed that until I read it in this forum. I can't notice it in normal speech, and can only hear it if the speaker says one or two words alone.

The switching yo and yu sounds are a little strange, but they occur at the end of a word, so not really too confusing. There's no yu ending, so it's obviously yo.

To me, the very hardest thing about Korean is the way it's taught. They don't introduce the "n-gut/gul" ("thing") construction until late in Level 2, you start using it in Level 3 and it takes a long time to get used to it and use it correctly. Why why why why? It's a central part of the spoken language and you can't sound normal until you can start using it appropriately. Korean 3-year-olds use it with ease. The Korean books should teach it right from the beginning. This is my one huge pet peeve about how Korean is taught, and this flaw is evident in every Korean language curriculum, including Sogang, even though they supposedly are the best program for learning spoken Korean. When someone is studying Korean Level 1 and Level 2 they have no hope of comprehending normal spoken Korean, because what they're hearing in the classroom sounds nothing like real spoken Korean.

In defiance of the thread title, I LOVE Korean. It's so much fun, even though I suck at it.
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IronFist
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4578 days ago

663 posts - 941 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Japanese, Korean

 
 Message 110 of 131
04 February 2012 at 6:14am | IP Logged 
Haksaeng wrote:
To me, the very hardest thing about Korean is the way it's taught. They don't introduce the "n-gut/gul" ("thing") construction until late in Level 2, you start using it in Level 3 and it takes a long time to get used to it and use it correctly. Why why why why? It's a central part of the spoken language and you can't sound normal until you can start using it appropriately.


Can you give a few examples of this please?
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이희선
Groupie
Australia
Joined 3110 days ago

56 posts - 96 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Russian

 
 Message 111 of 131
04 February 2012 at 6:54am | IP Logged 
Haksaeng wrote:


To me, the very hardest thing about Korean is the way it's taught. They don't introduce the "n-gut/gul" ("thing")
construction until late in Level 2, you start using it in Level 3 and it takes a long time to get used to it and use it
correctly.


I think it depends where you went to school. I learned (으)ㄴ 것 (n-gut) in level 1.

When I was a beginning Korean student, I was also frustrated that the Korean I learned in class wasn't quite the
Korean I heard in "real life". But now I think in some sense it is easier to learn the basic forms and build on them,
rather than just learning any form that one runs into in a conversation. Granted, that does make it tedious and a
lengthy process.


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Haksaeng
Senior Member
Korea, South
Joined 4339 days ago

166 posts - 250 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Korean, Arabic (Levantine)

 
 Message 112 of 131
04 February 2012 at 9:00am | IP Logged 


Oh, Level 1 is where it should be! I really feel like I saw it too late and it's taking me forever to learn to integrate it. I first saw it in Level 2 and didn't hear it used much (in the classroom) until Level 3 (Sogang books).

Of course in the real world it's used constantly and it's demoralizing when learning a language to hear this mysterious grammatical construction used constantly by everyone, including toddlers.

(Sogang has done a major revision of their books since I studied there, so I don't know if it's introduced earlier now)         &n bsp;  

Edited by Haksaeng on 04 February 2012 at 9:02am



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