Monday, January 2, 2012

Being attention-challenged: Friend or foe?

As anyone who truly knows me can attest, my brain loves to splash around in puddles of "what if"s and jump from idea to idea like hopping on stones to cross a stream. It should, therefore, come as no surprise to you (or to myself) that I got lost wandering around in the grammar tide pools, even though I just spent yesterday deciding to forgo "usual" language learning and try the TV Method (see previous post).

Foreign grammar is so fascinating, though. I can't help it.

Less surprising still, should be the fact that a pretty face is often behind my greatest of distractions, as was the case today. I've gotten pretty hung up on this song, performed by Kim Hyung Joong (Korean-boy-band-pop-star slash actor), and especially love this live version. The dangerous part happened when I started imagining myself singing the whole song. I could, right? Well, yes. I could figure out how to memorize all the sounds with enough practice, for sure. But, of course, that's not good enough for me. If I'm going to try to sing along, I'm going to want to know what I'm singing. So what am I doing? I'm writing the whole thing in my notebook and color-coding the translation. Keep in mind that I do this sort of stuff for fun in my spare time. Here are my steps.

1. I look up the Korean Hangul version of the lyrics.

너 하나밖에 난 모르고

2. I open Google translator, then cut and paste the lyrics.

너 하나밖에 난 모르고 = You know I'm only one (Google translation)

3. I read the translation in the video to see if the Google one makes any sense. Generally speaking, I don't trust translators' accuracy at all. In this case, the Google translation is very different from the human translation. Opposite, in fact.

너 하나밖에 난 모르고 = I know of no one other than you (human translation)

4. I try to separate out the distinct words to see if I can figure out the syntax (word order) rules. I know that Korean is an SOV language, which means that the verb typically comes at the end of the sentence. In Google, you can mouse over certain words that will become highlighted in both languages' versions. That way, you can determine easily which part is which.

5. Sometimes it becomes necessary to search out the alternate meanings of what Google is telling me. Some words have multiple meanings or shades of meaning, so it is important to choose the best one.

6. Once I feel I have a syntactical translation that is true to the human translation (above), I write the rough English equivalents under the Korean Hangul and color-code it all.

하나밖에 모르고
you (are) the only one i know (Success! That looks a lot like "I know of no one other than you.")

7. I try to read along with Hyung Joong while he sings... and if I'm brave, sing too.

"Neo hanapakke nan moreugooooo..."

So that's it. I guess I have to stop for today and start doing a few responsible things like laundry and food shopping and such. I promise to watch an hour of unsubtitled Korean TV before falling asleep.

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