Last fall, when I first started learning Korean, I told a friend about it and she said, “Umm…OK, but why?”
It’s a fair question. I live in a province with a Korean population of just over 1000 according to the 2016 census. I don’t work in tech, I don’t want to teach abroad (or locally, for that matter), so why the hell am I learning Korean?
Well, I’ll tell you 😛
Last fall I fell in love with K-pop. It started casually enough, with a music video or two. But it grew. Oh boy, did it grow. My K-pop favourites playlist currently has over 600 songs on it and I have a page-long list of groups to check out. I write album release dates on my calendar. You get the idea.
When I first got into K-pop I couldn’t help but be fascinated by the language. I immediately wanted to learn what people were saying and how to say things myself, not to mention how to read their alphabet (I’m a language geek. It’s a thing). So I downloaded a couple of apps, bought a book or two (fine…or six) and started learning Korean from scratch. You know, as you do when you’re a giant nerd.
I’ll admit it: I came for the K-pop. The K-pop is awesome! I enjoy being able to pick out words from song lyrics (my favourite Korean word is 목소리, which means “voice” and which you can hear by going to this link and clicking the speaker icon).
But while that is fun, it’s not what’s kept me going for (holy crap) more than 6 months. No, my friends, what makes me stay is the grammar.
Korean grammar is fascinating! For example, they conjugate verbs based on the intended level of politeness instead of the first/second/third person! As someone who grew up on je/tu/il/elle/nous/vous/ils (me/you/he/she/we/you-plural/they in English) that kind of blew my mind. And that’s just the beginning! Korean is SO different from English, and that means that everything is new. French is easy mode compared to Korean (no, seriously, the US government categorizes languages based on difficulty for native English speakers to learn, and French is a Level 1 while Korean is Level 3, the highest level). Every time I learn a new grammatical construction or recognize a vocabulary word in a song or TV show, I feel a little less lost and a little more excited.
So, I came for the K-pop. But I’m staying for the grammar. And I’m looking forward to sharing some of my discoveries!