19 In Korean learning journey (:/ 재밌는 한국어 (korean terms)

More to the dictionary meaning

There’s so much more to word meaning than what is presented in the dictionaries. This is especially relevant to words that depict feelings / emotions or other culturally distinct words.

For example, the Korean-English dictionary defines 창피하다 and 당황스럽다as both meaning ‘embarrassment’. However, the single English term does not encompass all the nuances. From a reading that I came across, 창피하다 depicts the feeling that result from the action and 당황스럽다 has to do with the feeling of worrying about the consequences as a result of the action.

In the reading, the author gives the example of using 창피하다 when a child wet his pants and 당황스럽다 when the child worry on how someone may have seen his act.

This kind of fine distinction is difficult to grasp when one relies solely on the dictionary to learn new vocabulary. In order to acquire the differences in meaning, one should learn a new word with context, either in a sentence or from television etc.

Simply memorizing the ‘definition’ and expecting to use the word accurately will be impossible. ^^

The Korean-Korean dictionary is much better than the Korean-English one, but most of the nuances is still not captured in the definition.

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My next entry will probably be written from Korea~~~ ㅋㅋ

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19 Comments

  • Reply
    Shashine
    17 June, 2010 at 8:28 AM

    hello~ 🙂
    no wonder when i look up the dictionary I couldn’t figure out the actual meaning of the words. now that i read this post, i understand more! thanks a lot! 고마워요~ ㅎㅎ practice practice practice. 🙂

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      17 June, 2010 at 10:04 AM

      heh you’re welcome xD 화이팅~~!

  • Reply
    minnie
    17 June, 2010 at 10:06 AM

    You’re absolutely right! That’s a mind-boggling one. I encountered the same issues when I took the Japanese language in secondary school and during then there wasn’t any Jap-Eng online dictionaries. How terrible. lol. Anyhow, when I started studying Korean, for every single vocabulary I made sure to read through at least 20 example sentences and spot them and their differences in varieties shows. – I hardly get to watch K-dramas, sadly. It’s time consuming, that probably attributes to why I’m progressing at turtle-pace. lol. Also, there exists the words/terms where its distinctions are gradually being blurred in modern usage. Often, even some native Koreans are confused at their choice of words. I think most importantly is to be able to ‘feel’ the ‘effect’ for correct usage..and I’m still far from that level, been using logic much. -.-

    Last year, I purchased Kor-Eng, Eng-Kor dictionaries, grammar, vocab books…etc…huge pile of them from Korea and they’re really affordable compared to the ridiculous pricing in Singapore. You should really check out the bookstores in Seoul!..

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      17 June, 2010 at 10:13 AM

      i totally agree! ^^ i’m still trying to cultivate the ‘feeling’ too. I find it easier to learn Korean when you know Chinese. They make similar distinctions in words sometimes~ do you feel that way? ^^

      did you go to korea for holiday or to study korean? ^^ i’ll prob be buying loads from the bookstores oops xD any particular grammar book that you recommend?

      the prices in kino are just crazy, especially for the grammar books in english! >.<

  • Reply
    creativityjapanese
    17 June, 2010 at 11:42 AM

    How true~! I guess it takes a lot of exposure to really get the “essence” of the meaning of the word. Probably the way to improve is to keep exposing oneself to different things, be it reading, listening or watching movies, variety shows, dramas, and what have you~

    Going to Korea soon~ Me too! Haha~

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      18 June, 2010 at 10:49 AM

      yes! i totally agree~! can we meet up in korea? (: (:

      • Reply
        creativityjapanese
        18 June, 2010 at 11:06 AM

        I would love to meet up~! How should we do so? ^^

      • Reply
        hangukdrama
        18 June, 2010 at 11:09 AM

        you are gg there in july right? what’s the exact date? ^^ mmm i’ll give you my number there once i have a phone! i have lessons on mon-thurs from 1plus to 6. other than that i should have time~

      • Reply
        creativityjapanese
        18 June, 2010 at 11:33 AM

        I will reach Seoul on 26th July but will go out of Seoul and will be free from 1st July till 4th July. But I will be going on a DMZ tour on 2nd (and returning around 4-5 in Seoul, so I will be free after that~)

        Do keep me posted on when you like to meet up~ ^^

      • Reply
        hangukdrama
        18 June, 2010 at 11:39 AM

        *confused* do you mean 26th June? i’ll email you again nearer the date! ^^

      • Reply
        creativityjapanese
        20 June, 2010 at 10:04 PM

        yep… sorry, i got mixed up with the dates. it should be june ;p

  • Reply
    Satish Chandra satyarthi
    18 June, 2010 at 5:54 AM

    A very good post… It would be really great if you could write one or more posts on the different nuances of some commonly used words.
    I think finding an appropriate Korean word to use in some context is the most difficult task for a learner. You can master this by going deep into Korean culture like watching movies, dramas, listening to music and meeting with Korean people.
    Some dictionaries have lots of example sentences with the word. It might also be useful in understanding the correct grammatical and situational use of that word. I find the online dictionary of Naver (http://endic.naver.com/) very useful in this regard.

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      18 June, 2010 at 10:49 AM

      i’ll see what i can come up with! thanks for the suggestion ^^
      I can’t do without the naver dictionary! I use both the kor-eng and kor-kor dictionary. Sometimes I like to check out both versions for a single word to get more comprehensive understanding.

  • Reply
    valerie
    22 June, 2010 at 12:07 AM

    What dictionary do you use an electronic or a paper/book dictionary ?

  • Reply
    Elle
    22 June, 2010 at 3:28 AM

    I think this is a really common problem when studying foreign languages. For me, I use dictionary definitions as “guidelines.” They give me ideas about what words mean, but I always try to keep an open-mind/eye/ear and pay serious attention to how native speakers actually use them. I love dictionaries and I use them everyday to study Korean, but it’s so hard to get the “feeling” from them. Instead of always running to a Kor-Eng dictionary, I try to use Naver’s Kor-Kor dictionary, but my Korean’s not that great so that doesn’t always work out. I also like to throw terms in google and see what comes up. That often gives me a good idea about how to actually use words.

  • Reply
    passerby
    25 June, 2010 at 12:53 AM

    wow. You gg korea? so cool.
    Studying there or just having holiday?

  • Reply
    alodia
    5 February, 2011 at 10:47 AM

    Cool! Thanks for pointing this out. I know 창피하다, but not 당황스럽다. My first encounter with 창피하다 was while watching “My Girl”, Lee Da Hee said this after singing 당근쏭. So she was embarrassed because of her past action (the singing of 당근쏭).

    How does 민망하다 differs from 창피하다 and 당황스럽다 then?

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