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Monday, May 24, 2010

Language Level Up!

Lately, I've been fairly concerned about my Korean (language) progress. I suppose it's because I study far less than I used to (not that I used to study all that much, really), so I don't have quite as many tangible markers proving to me that I know more than I did last week. And I suppose that's because I am spending most of my free time having mostly vegetarian (indeed, mostly vegan) potlucks with my coworkers, studying Chinese (in Korean), and watering my plants (my Cilantro is now edible!) So, last night, in an odd instance of real-life foreshadowing, I asked my friend at dinner how my Korean level was progressing. She told me that my grammar has been good for a long while, and that now my intonation is becoming more and more natural. I was pleased, though not so sure about the grammar comment.

Later that night, we started talking about Seven Stars Market, which, if you remember, I posted about a little while ago. Maybe you recall that I mentioned pig faces and skinned, hollow, gutted dogs? (On the plus side, you can buy fruits and nuts in bulk with no packaging.) I was explaining this to her and I used the best, most visceral (!) phrase I could muster to describe the dogs:

내장이 다 배앗긴 개들 = Naejang ta bae-atgin gaedeul = internal organs all yanked away dogs = dogs who have had all their organs yanked out.

My friend said she would have used a different phrase to describe it, one a little softer, since the way I put it was kind of gross and disturbing and unsettling, what with not mentioning who did it or why, and not referring to the point of view of the humans. I told her that the action itself (organ-yanking, I mean) completely ignores the POV of the dogs, and so maybe it's nice and even proper to talk about it in a disturbing way. After all, who's more affected, the people who yank or the piles of mummy-dogs lying around the market?

She replied that if my desire was to make a somewhat shocking, provocative statement, I had done well to use the passive form of the yank verb.


I was going to try to write an analysis of why this is a difficult task and what its significance is but...eh. I don't have it in me.