Monday, September 20, 2010

Think that learning English is harder than learning Korean? You are wrong. Think again.

It isn’t even close:  Korean is MUCH more difficult to learn than English.  It is a mere mental barrier.  Do you want some proof?  Here are just a few simple examples.
1.  The spelling of words in English doesn’t change.  In Korean, even the word “NO” has been changed(!!!) from 아니오, to 아뇨.  That is just the beginning.  갔습니다  or 갔읍닏다?  How can multiple spellings of the SAME word be correct?
2.  The number of ways that something is expressed in Korean is far greater than in English.  For example, “That is a beautiful girl” is only commonly said in a few ways in English, such as “She’s cute,” or “She’s hot,” or “She’s sexy.”  In Korean, how many ways are there to say the same thing, and that you actually use?  10?  At least?  In other words, the number of ways that something is expressed in English is limited, practically speaking.  Sorry, but those word lists used at hagwons are necessary for test-taking, but most of the words aren’t used in normal communication.  The number of words that are ACTUALLY USED during a typical day when speaking English is far, far less than the number of words used when communicating in Korean.  Not even close.
3.  Hanja.  On this, there cannot possibly be any debate.  Even if you have memorized every Hanja character used in Korean, there are the combinations of characters that cannot, for all intents and purposes, be learned (사장성어).    Many are easy to learn and translate (일석이조).  Some are almost impossible (새옹지마).   How exactly, would you go about translating 새옹지마 in a way that has anything to do with those four characters in 50 words or less?
4.  New phrases become common in everyday Korean, but the same is not true in English.  For example, 치마 바람 is a phrase used to describe Korean women, who are busily doing everything they can for their children.  However, the literal translation has almost nothing to do this notion, and a lengthy explanation is necessary for someone to understand the meaning.  The fact is that many, many people in Korea understand the term, and would even use the term.  However, new phrases like this example are rare in English.
The key point:  you have already know a language harder than English.  So, there is no reason to be afraid.


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