Wednesday, June 17, 2009

창원 한글학당

Back at class again, the Changwon Hangeul Hakdang (Hakdang is small school?) for those of you who can't read the title. Learning Korean is proceeding much slower than I would like for a variety of reasons. Mainly because I have no time. I'm finding it difficult to find the time to both practice, study, and speak. I'm just not finding the hours in the day to study as much as I would or should, consequently, the learning is going more slowly.

But I am pleased to announce a giant leap forward: I can now read and write pretty well (not that I can understand much of what I'm reading or writing, but hey give me a break). So I thought I'd make a few observations:

1. Korean is proving more challenging to hear and speak than I originally anticipated. There are several vowels, consonants, and these unusual double consonants that are indistinguishable in my ears. I simply cannot hear the difference between them and its proving quite frustrating.

2. The Korean script is every bit as functional and elegant as they say it is. My Korean friends and colleagues insist that it is a "scientific" script, but I think they mean in the sense that it was a language designed and constructed by academic scholars, as opposed to a writing system haphazardly cobbled together and improvised by anyone and everyone over thousands of years (as my own heaping mess of a mother tongue happens to be).

And while I'm not sure I'd apply the term "scientific" to describe the writing system, it is remarkably simple and straightforward to learn (as it was designed to be), and arguably Korea's greatest cultural achievement. You have consonants and vowels. Each character can have 1-2 consonants and 1 vowel (roughly). Anyone familiar with writing Chinese characters or Japanese will readily take to writing out Hangul with little trouble.

4. This isn't to say though, that it isn't without its pitfalls and traps for the uninitiated, as one can definitely find odd idiosyncrasies, as one could in any written language, I imagine.

3. Korean seems to place even more emphasis on polite forms and tenses than Japanese does. I'm still too early into things to know for sure, but this appears to be the case.

4. After learning the language a little better, Korean presents more problems for Romanization than I anticipated as well. This would definitely make the language more of a hurdle for Korean learners from Western speaking languages.

As for the class itself, I'm making a lot of new friends, and I'm enjoying every one's company quite a bit (and I'm hoping they feel the same way about me).

창원 한글학당 Changwon Hangeul Hakdang Korean Class

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