0 In Korean learning journey (:

Different words, same meaning

Started on a new k-novel 나라 없는 나라 and barely 3 pages in, I’ve highlighted countless number of words. The novel is crouched in the context of the Donghak Peasant Revolution and being totally unfamiliar with that part of history is making reading it very challenging. I still can’t really find my bearings and even something simple like the setting and the characters are still very unclear to me.

Besides the story, the writing is also another challenge. Set in the late Joseon dynasty, the writing and speech style seems to me (I may well be very wrong) as old style, but yet unfamiliar. I’ve read books in ‘ancient’ speech style such as 전우치 and I had no problems with that, but the endings used in the speech style here is unfamiliar to me.

There are still some of the familiar ~있느냐, ~라 that I’ve seen in other books / ancient dramas but in this book, there is a lot of new ones such as 잡아오렷다, 잡아오겠나이다, ~하셨나이까, ~하오리까. Fans of sageuk, can you guys tell me if you have heard of these endings before?

I would totally buy a book that explains all these to me!! Would love to know the representative speech styles (and endings) in each era and if there are any regional differences / class differences too. ><

Besides the speech styles, the book also uses a lot of archaic words(?). Actually I don’t even know if they are 옛말 or simply just a little more obscure.

Here are a few examples:

  • 항용  恒用
    • meaning: 항상 (always)
    • eg: 항용 있는 일
  • 여느
    • meaning: usual, ordinary
    • eg. 여느 때와는 달리
  • 이윽고
    • meaning: 드디어 (finally)
    • eg. 이윽고 밤이 되었다

I wonder if I use 항용 in a blog entry, would I come across as overly poetic, using flowery language, or simply just classier or sophisticated? Or would I sound normal? Or is it more suitable to be used in an academic report? Or it’s just archaic? These little nuances are easy for native speakers but so difficult for language learners to discern. But that makes language learning so fun (:

Just 3 pages in and I probably wrote about 50 new words in my notebook >.< Learning loads! I actually love how I can slowly savour each sentence and slowly ponder over each word instead of just reading it for the story. Sometimes I think that when we read in a native language, we get too caught up in the plot that we often neglect the beauty of the language and words used.

haha just some random thoughts.

Reading this book makes me realise that being a so called ‘advanced’ learner doesn’t mean much. There is so much I don’t know, language-wise and knowledge-wise. Language learning is never just about the language, but rather it’s all about the knowledge of the history, culture, and the entire society that uses this language.

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply