Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New Review by Sarah Nilson

From brilliant illustrations right down to the nitty gritty, I can truly recommend this book for an advanced beginner or lower intermediate Korean student.

I like that the book doesn't have Hangul Romanization as I have read many books which differ in their method of this - take Hangul vs Hangeul for example.

I started learning Korean on websites and I feel Wild Korean is a good follow on from that. Most websites teach the basics and very formal Korean which - whilst you would be able to talk very formally and write well - sometimes doesn't help if you are actually living in Korea. As I am here in Seoul I have encountered many situations where I could refer to the book and of course, that helps me to learn and remember the Korean much more than trying to memorise phrases which are not as relevant to me.

The layout of the book is well organised and easy to understand. There are tidbits here and there about culture and a useful appendix with conjugations and grammatical explanations. All in all I would give this book 9 out of 10 - and that is because there are always room for improvements. Great work from the author and his friends who helped him.

- Sarah Nilson

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Transitive and Intransitive Verbs 타동사와 자동사

타동사 means transitive verb and 자동사 means an intransitive verb. Intransitive verbs don’t need an object, but transitive verbs need an object. The object is sometimes hidden. Let’s look at two phrases below.

원숭이가 동물원에 있어요.  A monkey is(exists) in a zoo. 
“있어요” means “exist”. It is the intransitive verb, because it doesn’t have any object.

나는 커피를 마셨어요.  I drank coffee. 
“마셨어요” means “drank”. It’s a transitive verb, because it has 커피 as an object.

The worst thing about this grammar point is that some English verbs have both transitive and intransitive meanings in the same word, but there are different Korean verbs depending on what you want to say.

Let’s see the dialog below to better understand this grammar point.

숙이 : 어제 무엇을 했어요? What did you do yesterday?
                    하다 : to do (transitive verb) 무엇 : object

똘이 : 어제 학교에서 한국어를 가르쳤어요. I taught Korean at school
                    가르치다 : to teach (transitive verb)   한국어 : object

숙이 : 수업이 언제 끝났어요? When did the class finish?
                    끝나다 : to finish (intransitive verb) 수업 : subject

똘이 : 수업을 일찍 끝냈어요. I finished the class early.
                    끝내다 : to finish (transitive verb) 수업 : object
           그래서 5시에 끝났어요. So, it finished at 5 o’clock.
                    끝나다 : to finish (intransitive verb)

하다 and 가르치다 are transitive verbs, they are same in English. Both 끝내다 and 끝나다 can be translated as “to finish” in English, but 끝내다 is a transitive verb and 끝나다 is an intransitive verb.
Also, as you can see, 은/는 and 이/가 are usually used as a subject marker, 을/를 are object markers.
To learn more about the subject marker and topic marker, please check another post - http://wildkorean.blogspot.com/2011/12/topic-marker-and-subject-marker.html

Is it confusing? Relax! You don’t need to worry about this grammar point in most cases. Let’s check several cases you need to pay attention.

1. 좋다 to be good (V.I)  Vs  좋아하다 to like (V.T)
좋다 > 이 자전거는 좋아요.  This bicycle is good.
좋다 > 어떤 음식이 좋아요?  Which food is good?
좋아하다 > 누구를 좋아해요?  Who do you like?
좋아하다 > 김치찌개를 좋아해요?  Do you like the kimchi stew?

2. 서다  to stop, to stand up, to have an erection (V.I)  Vs  
        세우다  to stop something, to make something stand up, to erect (V.T) 
서다 > 버스가 섰어요.  The bus stopped.
서다 > 야한 영화 때문에 섰어요.  I have an erection because of an erotic movie.
세우다 > 차를 여기에 세워 주세요.  Please stop the car here.
세우다 > 세워 주세요.  Please give me an erection. (to your girlfriend or someone else..ㅋㅋㅋ)

3. 죽다  to die (V.I)  Vs  죽이다  to kill (V.T) 
죽다 > 내 개가 죽었어요.  My dog died.
죽다 > 죽어버릴거야!  I will just die!
죽이다 > 내가 내 개를 죽였어요.  I killed my dog.
죽이다 > 죽여버릴거야!  I will just kill you!

4. 끝나다  to finish (V.I)  Vs  끝내다  to finish something (V.T) 
끝나다 > 수업이 언제 끝났어요?  When did the class finish?
끝내다 > 수업을 언제 끝냈어요?  When did you finish the class?

5. 정지하다  to stop, to halt (V.I)  Vs  정지시키다  to stop (V.T) 
정지하다 > 버스가 갑자기 정지했어요.  The bus suddenly stopped.
정지시키다 > 신용카드를 정지시켜 주세요.  Please stop my credit card.

6. 타다  to burn (V.I)  Vs  태우다  to burn (V.T) 
타다 > 밥이 탔어요.  The rice burned.
태우다 > 밥을 태웠어요.  I burned the rice.  

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Topic Marker 은/는 and Subject Marker 이/가

In this book, you can see ~, ~, ~, ~ in many places, but I did not explain them properly. ~ / ~ are the topic markers, ~ / ~ are the subject markers; they are placed after nouns and pronouns to indicate the subject (grammatical subject) or the topic of a phrase. It may sound quite similar to many people, but different markers can alter the meaning of a phrase.

The topic marker and subject marker are very important grammar points in Korean. As English has no concept of the topic and subject marker, people are easily confused at these markers. Some students may be against it, but, when I am asked about these markers in the beginner or low intermediate classes, I explain that they are not so important. Although you omit the markers while speaking or make some mistakes, you can express what you want to say easily. Also, there are tons of other things to care about in the beginner or low-intermediate level other than these markers. 

Why are they so confusing?

The noun in front of the subject marker is obviously the grammatical subject. Also, the word in front of the topic marker is often used as the subject of the phrase. However, if you replace it with another marker, the intent of the phrase is changed. 
Please see the dialog below.

똘이 : 어느 나라 사람이에요?                  Where are you from?

아사미 : 일본 사람이에요.                I am Japanese.              ~ : topic marker
베키 : , 미국 사람 이에요.                   I am American.
알란 : 스코틀랜드 사람이에요.           I am Scottish.               ~ : subject marker

아사미’s answer is perfect.
베키’s answer is correct in conversational Korean. Although she didn’t use the topic marker, her answer sounds natural to Korean people.
But 알란 used the subject marker ~. People understand his answer, but many people may think it’s an awkward answer.
Although the English translations of 아사미 and 알란’s answer are the same, 알란’s answer is not proper.
What? Why?

Please see the example dialog below.

똘이 : 어느 나라 사람이에요?                  Where are you from?
아사미 : 일본 사람이에요.                I am Japanese.              ~ : topic marker

똘이 : 미국 사람이에요?                  Who is American?          누가 : 누구 +
                                                                         누구 : who       
베키 : 미국 사람이에요.                  I am American.              ~ : subject marker

If you use the topic marker, the important content is usually the descriptive part, not the  topic part.
In the first question, 똘이 asks 아사미 about her nationality. 아사미’s answer needs to be focused on where she is from, not on 아사미. That is why she needs to use the topic marker.
If you use the subject marker, the important contents are usually the subject part.
In the second question, 똘이 asks who the American is. 베키’s answer needs to be focused on herself, not on her nationality. That is why she needs to use the subject marker.

It’s confusing, right? Let’s check another dialog.

똘이 : 알란은 어디에 있어요?                  Where is Allan?
숙이 : 알란은 학교에 있어요.                  Allan is at school.     ~ : topic marker

똘이 : 학교에 있어요?                    Who is in the school?     누가 : 누구 +
                                                                                     누구 : who       
숙이 : 알란 학교에 있어요.            Allan is in the school      ~ : subject marker

In the first question, 똘이 asks about 알란. As the important point is his location, not himself, 숙이 needs to use the topic marker, ~.

In the second question, 똘이 asks who is in the school. As the important point is the person in the school, 똘이 needs to use the subject marker ~.

Another case that you can be confused about is when the subject marker and topic marker are in the same phrase. In this case, the noun with the subject marker is the grammatical subject of the phrase. The word with the topic marker can be translated to “as for ~” or “talking about ~”. You need to put the topic in front of the phrase.
Please see the example dialog below.

똘이 : 누가 저 택시를 세웠어요?              Who stopped that taxi?
숙이 : 저 택시는 내가 세웠어요.               I stopped that taxi.
                                                                       (As for that taxi, I stopped it.)

똘이 : 라면이 좋아요? 아니면 밥이 좋아요?       Is ramen ok? Or rice ok?
숙이 : 나는 라면이 좋아요.                            I like ramen.
                                                                                (As for me, ramen is good.)

똘이 : 라면은 누가 먹을 거예요?              Who is going to eat the ramen?
                                                                         (As for the ramen, who will eat it?)
숙이 : 라면은 내가 먹을 거예요.              I will eat the ramen.
                                                                       (As for the ramen, I will eat it.)

From the dialog above, you can see that direct English translation is a bit awkward. When the topic marker and subject marker are used together in the same phrase, it is usually better to translate the topic as the object of the phrase.
For example, “나는 라면이 좋아요” can be translated as “I like ramen”.  Also, "라면은 내가 먹을 거예요." can be translated as "I will eat the ramen."

Another interesting aspect of the topic marker is that, not only a noun, but also an adverb, position marker and place marker can be used for the topic. 
Please see the dialog below.

똘이 : 어제 집에 안 갔어요?  Didn't you go home yesterday?
숙이 : 네. 게임방에 있었어요.  No. I was in the PC room.
똘이 : 집에는 언제 갈 거예요?   When will you go home?  (As for home / to home ,  when will you go?)
                                           집에 : to home     ~는 : topic marker    
숙이 : 내일 저녁 까지는 갈 거예요.  I will go home by tomorrow evening. (As for by tomorrow evening, I will go home.)                                        내일 저녁 까지 : by tomorrow evening     ~는 : topic marker

Let's see another dialog.

똘이 : 한국어 잘 해요?  Do you speak Korean well?
베키 : 잘은 못 해요.   I don't speak well.   
                                     잘 : well    ~은 : topic marker
아사미 : 조금은 할 수 있어요.  I can speak a little bit.  (As for a little bit, I can speak.)
                                                     조금 : a little    ~은 : topic marker

As I mentioned in the beginning, the topic marker and the subject marker are important grammar points. However, it is not a good idea to try too hard to understand this grammar when you are still in beginner's level. 
When you feel you really need to study these markers again, it could be a sign that you are going up to a higher level, or ready to be more serious about learning Korean.