Half a year of no posts, and now Hanja? Pretty sure I’ve gone crazy. I finally found time again after a crazy period of school, work and freelancing jobs and what do I do with that time? I just created a Memrise course for myself starting with some Hanja characters.

Knowing very little about Hanja other than it being the root of a lot of Korean words and that knowing Hanja can really help you to figure out unknown Korean words easier, I know absolutely nothing. It looks like random drawings to me and I can not imagine how anyone could ever recognize them all distinctly without fail. With that said, I am going to try.

Creating a Memrise course for Hanja turns out te be really time consuming though. I have a book (Useful Chinese Characters for Learners of Korean) which I have barely skimmed up until now. Searching Korean words, copying the Hanja into other dictionaries and trying to figure out what best to put on the cards is kind of exhausting. I have to say though, finding out that certain words that I already know share a common Hanja makes it really cool. I’ve been going over wordslist for the past hour, (doesn’t that sound exciting?!), in awe of how many connections I have missed. Maybe I should’ve been less stubborn and started earlier.

Oh well, one thing to take away from this. I am back, I have free time again and I will blog some more again… I semi-promise!

I finally started watching The Genius (더 지니어스), starting with 시즌3 right now. If I like it and I am caught up I will probably grab myself the previous seasons too. However, that’s not the point of this post. I started collecting vocabulary from this show because I am watching this without subtitles and I want to understand as much as possible.

Every language learner has run into them, the frequency lists. 1000 or 2000 words, for Korean I’ve even found a list of the 6000 most frequently used words. These words are obviously important, they will be everywhere. Statistically it is said that those words cover about 80 to 85 percent of words that you will use!

I saw a vlog by Steve Kaufmann, (maybe you know him as lingosteve), today mentioning this. His video is about the famous question “How many words do I need to know to be fluent”. Steve states that the frequency list words carry your conversation but that the real meaning of your conversation lies in the more specific, context dependent words that you won’t find in those lists.

Learning vocabulary from long endless lists is obviously really boring. Coming in contact with these more specific words and hunting them down in a dictionary is honestly a lot more exciting. Just look at this: 생존 전략. Survival strategy. I am going to bet that this is not on any frequently used words list! And it might just come in handy in a zombie appocolypse…

While I have been studying Korean for a while now and I’m reaching a point where I am gaining more confidence I still feel like I’ve never fully committed to learning Korean. I’ve been taking my lessons with my favorite(!), (she reads the blog), iTalki teacher and I consume a (un)healthy amount of Korean content every day. Recently I’ve even been on a roll with vocabulary learning. Yet I still feel uncommitted. I believe that I don’t enforce my learning enough.

It’s not like I don’t want to. I like learning Korean. I like to think that I don’t have time while in reality I can easily set out at least an hour every day. The Korean level I’ve acquired so far has even given me some of the best experiences of my life. It’s been truly amazing. So why is it so hard?

Personally I think it is because true commitment is really scary. What if I am fully committed, yet still fail. If I make mistakes while studying super hard every day I have no excuse, right? I’ve never truly experienced fear or failure this way, simply because I’ve managed to avoid roadblocks and was always able to find a way through sheer dedication. Maybe it is because I told myself in high-school that I couldn’t learn languages back when I dropped both German and French because they were my worst classes by far. I know that’s silly.

I’ve got to smack myself, remind myself that in fact I’m being silly and that I choose to fully commit to Korean. Mistakes will happen no matter what and that it’s not relevant to how hard you have worked. The only thing that actually matters is to take those mistakes and to fix them. Success might just be a possibility then.

Let’s do this!

Learning words is boring, let’s be honest. That’s why my favorite site to do this is Memrise. It looks fancy, it works great… but most of all. It keeps score! Weekly highscores, more points for longer correct streaks… etc!

I finally got my invite a couple days ago to Memrise premium and in combination with that I figured out that Memrise actually offers the ability to put your vocabulary listed on private, obviously meaning that it’s not listed on the site for anyone else.

Well, I am a sucker for statistics and fancy little graphs. I work in a big data analysis company, surprise surprise! Now quite some time ago I bought the 2000 essential Korean words for beginners. While I already know quite a few of these I figured why not start a fresh new list with Memrise premium! I wrote some software that automatically extracts the correct wordtype (Part of Speech), pronunciation and even an audio file straight from the Naver online dictionary! How fancy is that?! 😀

It’s been about a week since I returned from Korea. I had a great time and I feel like my Korean improved quite a bit (on the listening part mostly). I got more confident in speaking too as I tried to just blurt things out, even if I knew it was wrong.

Anyway, I wanted to blog while I was in Korea but honestly. I’m not a big blogger. I just want to post informative stuff or reinforce what I’ve learned. I want to be more active in the blog but I will have to figure out some creative ways of doing so that keeps me interested.

What’s most important though is that going to Korea again gave me a new boost in confidence and motivation for me to hopefully do better in study from now on! Let’s do this :)

Some of my final preparations before going back to Korea in 14 days, I need to know more about honorifics. Too often I confuse simply using formal language with honorific language. This year I want to avoid this mistake as often as possible! :) I’ll split this blog in parts so it won’t be too long.

So what do I think about when we’re talking honorifics?

  • -(으)시
  • 께서 / 께서는
  • Honorific verbs such as 계시다 / 잡수시다
  • Honorific nouns such as 성함 / 댁

If you google “Korean honorific grammar”, this will likely be your first result. The honorific particle. Attach it to the root of your verb and it will become honorific, simple enough right? So, what is my problem with this? The combination of 반말 and this particle. It’s just so confusing!

An example from “Using Korean: A Guide to Contemporary Usage”. 김 선생님이셔? I read this and I think, am I asking Professor Kim if that’s him? Isn’t that inappropriate? Yep. BUT, what if you asked someone younger, or someone you know well if that person over there is Professor Kim. The honorific is for 김 선생님, the casual ending for the younger person you are asking.

It is used to properly address the subject of your sentences. Now that makes sense. The book states that -(으)시 is usually called for if you or the listener has a personal relation to the subject or if the subject is worthy of honorification. This is sometimes still a mystery to me. The book lists lots of examples and exceptions and I will read through those probably every day for the coming 2 weeks. 😛

께서 / 께서는
These particles are the honorific equivalents of 이/가 and 은/는. These are used after subjects that you are being honorific too. It’s important to look beyond the 이/가 and 은/는 particle though. It’s not a simple find and replace unfortunately. An example would be “남동생이 없어요”. While 남동생 is the subject, “I” will be the understood subject. “I don’t have a younger brother”. Using the honorific particles here would be incorrect.

Part 2 tomorrow (probably! :P)
Alright so, I need to let this sink in some more and I’m looking for some more material. This definitely seems like one of the most complicated grammar patterns so far for me but I really want to get it right before going to Korea! ^^

Maybe it’s my huge bias speaking, but that new KBS drama with Eunji and Bora… just wow! It’s so much fun 😀

Eunji in my opinion has great acting skills and always does well in her role as a “don’t mess with me” kind of girl. She doesn’t speak in 사투리 this time, which is super attractive btw, but as a bonus she sings in the show a lot. The show tries to portray that her singing touches hearts rather than just amaze or entertain people. It does a very good job at it… but that may again, be bias. 😛

Ugh, episode 6 is airing tonight and I will soon have to wait another week for more ㅠㅠ

I will probably have to watch the finale in Korea… Gotta find some good little restaurant with a trot loving Ahjumma… ㅋㅋㅋ

Finally wrapped up the final block at school before the holiday. Now I can focus on Korean again and prepare more for my trip back in August 😀

D-33 to South Korea, and already planning to go to SMTown IV in Seoul. Going to be great 😀

It’s finally here! Learning Korean with Hearthstone. A project I’ve worked on for the last month or so…

Learning languages while playing games? Sign me up! Try using Hearthstone to learn more Korean. Increase your gaming vocabulary or practice your Korean listening skills!

This web application brings you the following features:

  • The full Hearthstone card database. In Korean & English!
  • Dictation practice. Listen to the unique dialogue of Hearthstone and dictate along.
  • Grab a list of all the required vocabulary to play Hearthstone in Korean, without peeking at the cards database.
  • Find out how to play Hearthstone in Korean yourself.

There’s always room for 1 more in the Hearthstone tavern!

Want to give it a look? Click here: Learning Korean with Hearthstone

Not going to lie, this pattern hurts my brain. A pattern that corresponds to “only” or “nothing but”. Only followed by negative forms with the exception of 아니다.

So why do I think this is hard? Here’s an example:

저는 그것밖에 몰라요.
저는 그것 밖에 몰라요
I that thing nothing but don’t know

Very literally translated: “I don’t know nothing but that (thing)”. Sounds awkward, right? So the actual translation you would use is: “I know nothing other than that”, or even better, “That is all I know”. The very switch from don’t know (몰라요) to know (알아요) for me is extremely hard, especially when trying to speak.

Another example:

너밖에 그렇게 말하는 사람이 없다
밖에 그렇게 말하는 사람이 없다
you only so to speak, noun modifier person to not exist

You are the only one who says so.

Ahhh my brain! 😛