There is no guessing what anything means in Korea, the way you can bluff your way around Europe. Bathroom is hwa-jang-shil (not toilette), Family is Kah-jok (not familia). And some sounds in English, such as "I," don't exist here, so my name -- Michael -- is pronounced more like Ma-EE-Keul. It looks like this:
I took a beginner's class in DC at the Korean Embassy last summer, but somehow in the midst planning a wedding and working full time, I managed to show up late and without my homework often, and I remember feeling like the slow kid, making the same mistakes over and over again.
|My teacher, aka "san-seng-nim"|
I did learn the alphabet, which is a good start. Hangul, as its called, was designed in the 15th century as a departure from hanja, the Chinese characters that were used. It's phonemic and meant to be more accessible to regular people, most of whom were illiterate at the time. Koreans are very proud of its clean lines and simple logic and they have a holiday each year to celebrate its creation.
|My class - composed of students from|
Russia, China, France, Hong Kong,
Vietnam, Canada, and me (USA)
In my class now, we are finally learning actual sentences, fun little phrases like: Is that your water? This is my cellphone! That person over there, who is that?
I still don't know how to understand answers to most of my questions, but the language is becoming a little more than noise to me now, and I am having fun asking.