Reading Korean

Note: This was posted in my other journal, , last November 5, 2010.

I mentioned in my last post that my sister just bought 15 books, 5 of them my picks–Yonsei University’s 한국어 읽기 (Reading Korean) series. I went ahead and started reading the first book out of that series, 처음 배우는 한국어 읽기, and it starts with teaching the reader how to pronounce 한글. I skipped most of that stuff since I have a basic understanding of the difference between ㅍ, ㅂ, and ㅃ, and other sounds that are confusing to foreigners and went ahead with the short readings and dialogues, and here are two examples, a dialogue and a short reading:

제6과 한국 생활

김 선생님: 안녕하십니까? 반갑습니다. 저는 한국말 선생님입니다.
다니까: 안녕하십니까? 저는 다니까입니다. 일본에서 왔습니다. 저는 대학생입니다.
김 선생님: 한국 생활이 어떻습니까?
다니까: 한국 생활이 재미있습니다.
김 선생님: 친구가 있습니까?
다니까: 예, 친구가 많습니다.
김 선생님: 한국 친구가 많습니까? 일본 친구가 많습니까?
다니까: 한국 친구가 많습니다. 저는 한국이 좋습니다.

제15과 한국 음식

우리는 오늘 오후에 한식집에 갔습니다.
식당에 사람들이 아주 많았습니다.
저는 냉면을 좋아합니다.
우리는 냉면과 비빔밥을 시켰습니다.
냉면은 5,000원, 비빔밥은 4,500원이었습니다.
음식 값이 비싸지 않았습니다.
음식이 모두 맛이 있었습니다.
제 친구는 한국 요리를 배우고 싶어합니다.
저도 한국 요리를 배우고 싶습니다.

What I noticed from the readings is that it’s too formal and polite. It’s the kind of speech level that Yujin from the Korean drama Soulmate as well as Go Minam from You’re Beautiful frequently used. It never seemed to bother me before since I didn’t really encounter much of this speech level, as KLEAR’s Integrated Korean books use the common -요 forms that almost everyone uses when speaking polite Korean to strangers before introducing other speech levels. However, now that I’ve actually read these passages out loud, it really is quite tiring to speak formally–hearing myself speak all these ㅂ니다s and ㅂ니까s is tiring. D: The Yonsei 읽기 books should have taught the common -요 form first since this is what is normally used.

I’ll be translating whatever I read in Korean from now on, just to measure my vocabulary, but I won’t translate this one just because it’s too basic–I know the vocabulary for these readings. Anyway, I’m glad the Yonsei books don’t have translations! I’ve been visiting Korean engine sites like Naver or Nate more frequently and have tried reading short news articles about Song Joong Ki (ㅋㅋㅋ). Granted that I’m not at a level to understand everything that I read (there’s too much I still don’t know, unfortunately ㅠ) but trying to learn from what I can read and understand makes me feel that someday, I may be able to understand most of whatever I read in 한국어.

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