Category Archives: Thoughts

Between Calm and Passion: 001

Reading a novel in another language is somewhat a laborious process. Because there are a lot of words I don’t know and have only encountered for the first time while reading 냉정과 열정사이, I had to keep checking for definitions in Naver Dictionary (thank God for this extremely useful online dictionary!).

My reading process:

  1. Read a couple of paragraphs and try to understand as much as possible
  2. Underline unfamiliar words and grammar using a pencil
  3. Write down the sentences with unfamiliar terms on my notebook, and underline the same words
  4. Look for definitions (or explanations, in the case of unfamiliar grammar) online (or using a grammar book)
  5. Write down definitions on notebook
  6. Read the paragraphs again

It takes quite a long time if one paragraph has a ton of words I don’t know, but for some reason I quite like it. I don’t know if my brain has retained any of the new vocabulary that I’ve learned from the novel, but it’s certainly an enjoyable process. Maybe it’s because I actually like what I read–unlike the dry text and conversations in textbooks, a novel has forward-moving plot, so if the story is engaging enough, it keeps me reading and at the same time keeps me learning. I still like reading textbooks, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes it’s just not the most fun way to learn Korean. /shrugs

냉정과 열정사이 can be translated as Between Calm and Passion (hence the title of this post). I’ll be posting some translations of parts I liked throughout the book, just because I really like the plot. Do note, however, that because I’m learning Korean and nowhere near proficient, my translations will probably not be accurate, heh. I’m merely using translating as another tool for learning Korean, and, well, it’s fun to translate!

Anyway, the plot of Between Calm and Passion circles around two individuals, Aoi and Junsei, who made a promise to each other when they were 20 years old that on Aoi’s 30th birthday, they would meet again at the Duomo, located in Florence, Italy. The novel is separated into two books, Rosso and Blu, with each book written by a different author and focusing on the point of view of a main character (Rosso for Aoi, Blu for Junsei), so it’s best to read the books alternately to get the feel for Aoi- and Junsei’s feelings and thoughts. My plan is to read Rosso first, then once I finish a chapter, go to Blu and read Junsei’s point of view.

Between Calm and Passion is originally written in Japanese, so what I’m doing is translating a translation of a work. If I studied Japanese really hard years ago I probably would have wanted to read this in Japanese, tsk. Ooh, and Between Calm and Passion has a movie adaptation which I have yet to see. I’ve been stopping myself from doing so before actually finishing the novel. Realistically speaking though, it would take a long while before I get to finish both books, so… D:

Meh, digression aside, here’s a translation of the introductions (I do not know what to call those short lines written before the first chapter. Introductions? Prologue? Erm…) of both Rosso and Blu. These are really short passages, but since I haven’t finished much of Rosso’s chapter one, there isn’t a lot of translation I can do at the moment. :/

Rosso

Agata Junsei was my everything. Those eyes, that voice, even that smiling face that suddenly flickers with a shadow of loneliness. If Junsei were to die somewhere, I will probably know. However far a place, even if we will not meet again…

Blu

I believe that although a person may not remember everything that happens every day, the precious things will never be forgotten. I don’t think Aoi completely forgot what happened that night. Even though it’s uncertain whether I’ll be able to meet her again…

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새 책들!

(Originally posted on my 비행기 Tumblr account)

The package my sister and I ordered from Korea (which took quite a while to get here) was supposed to be delivered yesterday, but for some strange reason we missed the mailman. Today we went and picked it up from the post office, so now my Korean novels are here!

(From top to bottom: 냉정과 열정 사이 – Rosso & Blu minibooks; 사랑 후에 오는 것들; 엄마를 부탁해)

!!!!!

Picking those books from a list of the many books I wanted to have was a chore. At first, I wanted to read Guillaume Musso’s 당신, 거기 있어줄래요, but thought that if I should read a novel in Korean I should start with novels that are originally written in Korean (Musso’s French, so naturally, his novels are originally written in French). But guess what? I bought a mix of translated works and novels originally in Korean. 엄마를 부탁해 is written by Shin Kyung-sook, and one of the books making up the novel 사랑 후에 오는 것들 is written by 공지영, but the other three books are by Japanese writers (Tsuji Hitonari wrote half of both 사랑 후에 오는 것들 and 냉정과 열정사이, whereas Ekuni Kaori wrote half of 냉정과 열정사이).

I wanted to buy 내 이름은 김삼순 as well, but apparently it’s already out of print? Hmm. There could still be some copies lying around somewhere, but I didn’t get to buy it. I should’ve bought 커피프린스 1호점 too since it’s quite cheap (it’s sold at Libro for 4900 Korean won–if converted, that’s less that $4.50!). Ah well, maybe I’ll just try and get them some other time.

I’m happy about my purchases, for the most part. I’m giddy to start reading 엄마를 부탁해 in Korean–I wanted to read it for so long (it’s available in English with the title Please Look After Mom) but didn’t because I wanted to get it in Korean first. 사랑 후에 오는 것들 is a novel that wasn’t actually high up in my to-read list, but…I dunno, I just wanted to get it. And when I found that there’s an available set of that plus 냉정과 열정사이 (originally 冷静と情熱のあいだ or Calmi Cuori Appassionati, which I’ve wanted to read ever since finding out about the plot) in mini format, I grabbed the chance to buy it. The minibooks are cute and tiny, about the size of my smartphone and smaller than my Pilot pencil.

Words cannot express just how ecstatic I am at just seeing my books. I’ve always loved reading stories and I love learning Korean, so to have those two things collide is just incredible for me. Of course, it won’t be easy to read these books; I looked at 엄마를 부탁해 and was floored at how many words I don’t know (yet). But it’s okay. I’m going to read everything in my own pace and just enjoy the idea that I’m reading a novel in a language that, for the first…18 years of my life (I think? I don’t really know when I actually really started learning Korean), was something entirely foreign and something I had no care for.

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신기해

I’m probably one of the best examples of what a self-studying person should not be. After progressing a little, I take a long, long break from studying and enter this…hibernating phase where I don’t give a care about my head slowly losing the vocabulary and grammar points I’ve studied in the past. This happened when I finished Beginning 1 and lasted about a year and a half (or so) before I went and picked up Beginning 2. After finishing Beginning 2, the same thing happens.

Language learning will never be easy for me, that I am sure of. To progress in any language, you have to devote huge amounts of your time. I remember when I started reading Beginning 1, I maintained a strict schedule, allotting three to four 1-hour blocks of Korean study in between studying for my exams. I didn’t do much of anything else–no computer, no reading novels, although maybe a teeny, tiny bit of Korean drama watching (heh). Looking back, I can’t believe I managed to keep up with the schedule, because I’m really not a stickler for schedules of  any sort.

…But maybe I diligently kept with it back then because learning Korean at that time, compared to studying for my exams, was just so fun. Not that it isn’t anymore (it still is), but really, the best days of learning anything are right in the beginning, when you fawn at every new word and every new grammar point and delight at forming the most basic of sentences. Those are the fun times. And then you reach a certain point when you start to think, I should know something else by now. I should be able to write more complicated stuff right now. Why am I not learning anything new? Why am I not progressing at all? That’s when it gets less fun and more of a chore. I hate thinking of language learning as a chore because it definitely isn’t and by all means it shouldn’t be, but sometimes it becomes exactly that. It becomes nothing but a set of hurdles to jump through and really, what else can take away the fun out of language learning other than that?

Right now if there’s one thing I wish while studying Korean, it would probably be for me to go back to the mindset I used to have in the earliest stages of learning Korean: that language learning is fun. That every new word is 신기해. That I don’t have to rush it all because every moment I soak up the language I’m learning something new–and that in itself is wonderful.

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Let’s live many lives.

“Kolik jazyků znáš, tolikrát jsi člověkem.” I found this Czech proverb through the internet—it means if you know only one language, you live only once. It’s a very profound way to think about the importance of learning various languages: that we live another life for every language we can speak, and I quite agree. Having been raised in another culture and language, I have, throughout the years, come to appreciate the importance of understanding another language—and through studying different languages, learned to appreciate my native tongue.

My first language was not English, although it was a very close second. I’m not quite sure what my first words were, but I remember speaking Tagalog (a regional language in the Philippines) ever since. Before I went to kindergarten, my mother taught me how to write a few words on paper, which were, surprisingly, not in Tagalog; instead, the first words I have ever written (apart from my own name) were apple and boy—English words. My schoolbooks from early on were written in English; so were the children’s books and dictionaries and most other things I read. Even though we spoke Tagalog most of the time, the medium of instruction in school was English. Before I graduated from elementary school, I was already as comfortable using English as I was using Tagalog. By the time I entered high school, my preferred language was already English. It was apparent that in our impoverished country, only the people who could speak and write in English well were considered to be the well-educated—the elites. Students who could barely utter an English sentence without stuttering and mixing the p’s and the f’s (and the b’s and the v’s) were laughed at, mocked for not being able to speak English. Back then, I strongly believed that English was the only language that was worth using. Sure, it was perfectly fine to learn another language if you can, but English is the best. Why shouldn’t it be, when the movies I liked watching were all in English, and the novels I so fondly read were also in English?

My perspective on things started to change when I began to study Japanese and Korean. I had been fond of Japanese anime ever since I was a kid, but I was only fascinated with the drawings and not the language. Then I began to watch Korean and Japanese movies with subtitles, and everything started from there—there was a subtlety and poignancy in the movies that I never really saw before, and I wanted more. Before long, I wanted to learn the languages so I could make do without subtitles. After all, there’s only so much subtitles can do to translate the meaning, the nuance, the subtleties, from one language into another.

Fast forward to 2011, and here I am, fascinated not only with East Asian languages but with other languages, including my very own. I am still far from being fluent in the languages I am learning, but I have come so very far from the English-centered person that I was before. Whenever I look back to who I was then, I realize how narrow my perspective was. It was like I was looking at a wide world with tunnel vision: I think I’m seeing a lot because that’s what I see every single day, yet in reality I am only seeing very little. Learning a new language makes me understand and appreciate another culture, and I think that’s what  this world lacks: a better understanding of the myriad of cultures around the world and the beautiful differences that we have from one another. It’s like looking at the various colors of the rainbow: the range of colors is what makes the rainbow beautiful. Imagine a world made up of only one hue, wouldn’t that be boring? It’s the very same with languages and cultures—if your world was only made up of one language and you only know your own culture, your world is infinitely limited to what you’re exposed to, when there’s still so much you can see of other people’s lives and their world.

I think it’s a shame that some people think it’s unnecessary to learn another language apart from their own. I’ve met a few people who are astounded that I’m even trying to learn, given that it’s a difficult process to study a new language; I’ve met some who tried learning another language but stopped after a month, thinking that they’re not actually learning anything. But language learning was never meant to be a simple thing. Learning a new language is like going back to preschool: you have to re-learn everything from scratch—from simple, kindergarten words like dogs and cats to politics and philosophy—everything. It’s not as simple as learning a few phrases such as “how much is this?” or “where is the bathroom?” Learning a new language is building up an entire life, an entire culture, block by block, and the minute you learn something new, you realize that there is still tons more to learn. It’s a tough road to take…but it’s very rewarding.

Now I shall go back to that Czech proverb I mentioned at the beginning: Kolik jazyků znáš, tolikrát jsi člověkem. If you know only one language, you live only once. How many lives are you living right now?

Well, hello there

So…after a series of migrations–from WordPress to tumblr to LiveJournal–I am back here. I hope this time it’ll be the permanent home of all my language stuff.

드디어!

Finished with Integrated Korean’s Beginning 2. *rowdy cheers* It took SOOOO long, mostly because I was stuck in a rut, that endless pit of “I’m not learning anything new!” Thank goodness that’s finally over. Now all that’s left is a renewed sense of fulfillment and excitement of what’s to come. I know if I keep on studying diligently I’ll be able to quickly gain new grammar patterns and perhaps have the confidence to actually try to find a Korean penpal/e-pal/whatever-they-call-those-these-days.

Up next in my to-read list are the following:

Integrated Korean Intermediate 1. Ooh. Just the thought of trying to read a book that says ‘intermediate’ excites me. I think my reading comprehension can match up with whatever the textbook throws at me, but I’m not quite sure about my writing skills just yet. Hmm…

연세 한국어 1. Oh yes, right from the very beginning. I quite like Yonsei’s colorful illustrations–they don’t give out much of that textbook-y feeling that other language textbooks have. It kind of reminds me (slightly) of my Spanish Vistas book, which was super engaging and fun to read–truly unfortunate that I wasn’t quite into Spanish (at least…not yet. I might be in the near future *winkwink*). The flaw of the Yonsei Korean 1 textbook is that it assumes the reader is in a Korean class, which means there’s a teacher who guides the reader through the lessons. There’s very little English involved, unlike the elaborate explanations in the Integrated Korean series. In the first lesson of Yonsei Korean 1, words like 부르기, 성과 이름, 찾으십시오, and the like are to be seen, and if you’re a total beginner with little to no help from a native Korean, it’ll be quite confusing, not to mention frustrating. And we don’t want to be frustrated right at the very beginning, yes? XD

연세 한국어 읽기 1급 – 2급. I’ve been reading this on and off for a while and I think it’s a good place to start trying to read articles/stories. I personally liked two stories from 2급, which are 동물들의 나이 자랑 and 효성이 지극한 호랑이. Very nice folk tales. :D

And I’ll continue to read a few webtoons, because I learn stuff from there that I won’t learn from textbooks, not to mention that it’s a great motivator (because if I keep studying, there may come a day that I’ll understand most of what’s written without having to look up so many words). Ooh, and I love the Naver app for smartphones. Very useful–영어사전 on the go, yeah! :D

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귀여운 글씨네! 아 부럽다~


Never mind the fact that it’s probably a font–I still want to write 한글 as cute as the handwriting in this manhwa, 우연일까? (which I’ll translate as Is This a Coincidence?)

Hah, it seems I’m reading quite a lot of 만화 these days…

EDIT: I was reading the comments for this 만화, and I found the right summary for the story:
과장님이 혜지좋아하고 혜지는 후영이좋아하고 후영인 홍주좋아하고 홍주는 방준호작가좋아하고
ㅎㅎㅎ

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아직도 공부해…

Nope, I haven’t forgotten to study, although to be quite honest I was hoping to study more than what I’m doing right now. Still, at least I’m still reading the books, right?

I think what’s keeping me from actually being really, totally enthusiastic about studying languages is the fact that I’m stuck in the after-beginner phase. Y’know, that ditch where I know some stuff and now it seems I can’t progress out of knowing just some stuff. I read Beginning 2 of Integrated Korean, but I’m not actually learning anything new (or perhaps very little, if any) because my head is already used to reading the grammar introduced in that book. However, if I try to actually jump into the Intermediate, I’m scared of not understanding anything…

아이구우우우…

So while I’m on that ditch, I’m back to reading some 만화. I’m around halfway through 러브 라이터 (Love Writer), which really isn’t aesthetically pleasing (it looks like it’s drawn on Paint, or something), but the story’s decent, and quite understandable for someone like me. I still have to rely on Naver Dictionary once in a while, but I can actually understand what’s going on and laugh along the funny scenes.


A scene from the first chapter of Love Writer, where the lead girl, Yul, gets asked to write a love letter for the first time
And then today I stumbled upon a really cute (and very well drawn) manhwa–오렌지 마말레이드 (Orange Marmalade). I still have no idea why the title is like so, since I haven’t encountered anything regarding marmalade in the story (and I’m already on Chapter 15). The story revolves around vampires living among humans–not a very original premise, but it’s very cute. :D


Oh, this is a funny scene. ㅎㅎㅎ
Orange Marmalade is really cute–not to mention the coolness of having a colored manhwa released…weekly, I think? I wonder how the artist gets to draw these things and release ’em on time–maybe he/she (is a 석우 supposed to be a he or a she? It’s hard to tell a Korean name’s gender, really; I’ve seen 수영s who are female and male; the same goes for 해진 and a lot of other names…)  already finished the chapters way before they’re released…? IDK.

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私は大学생です. O.O

So today while I was studying for a quiz, I tried introducing myself in Japanese out loud (totally unrelated to the quiz, since that one was on Child Development, but yeah). Nothing too hard; just the simple, hello, my name is –, I’m — years old, I’m a university student, etc. It’s not really hard, right? But then when I got to the part where I say I’m a university student, I said out loud, 私は大学です (Watashi wa daigaku-saeng desu.) O.O Right after saying that out loud, I caught the mistake. But I’ve already done it, and if I were in a situation where I had to introduce myself in Japanese, I would’ve screwed up. It wasn’t a big screw-up, but still…fail. D:

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This is bad.

Today I grabbed my Elementary Japanese book–a first in a very long while, and a first for this year too. I went to the chapter where I stopped before, tried reading the introductory comics for that chapter, and was stumped by such a simple word. 今晩 (konban; this evening). UGH. I had to look at the other page with the furigana to figure out what the second kanji was.

I feel so inadequate right now.

So I promise to try and read my Japanese and Korean textbooks everyday. Not as in read one long chapter everyday (that would be suicide since I still have school to think about), but keep up with it slowly but consistently, so that I won’t forget my vocabularies and some other stuff. It’s a little embarrassing, to be honest, that I have to start a few paces back, but I think this should push me toward being more aggressive in my language learning. I have to put more effort in it, otherwise I really wouldn’t learn anything. I have everything I need to start learning: good books, podcasts, anime and dramas and movies and music to keep me sane and motivated–all I need is consistency. And determination. Without those, I will never be able to get anywhere.

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