Go home Google translate, you’re drunk

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Not so alone today

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Today I’m on my usual walk and I stop to pet the little dogs that hang out at this small church.  While playing with the dogs, a group of about 6 soldiers walk past me.  Interesting as there isn’t a base near by that I know of.  Meh, what do I know really.  So I finish with the dogs and continue on. I see the soldiers have now occupied my normal pagoda.  So I continue on to another, smaller one.  While sitting there, a car drives along this path, which I thought was only for people/bikes….my mistake apparently.  He stops right by where I am, gets out, walks around for like 3mins, gets back into his car and drives off.  Guess I kicked him out of his spot.

My snack:

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The Koran on the Coke bottle is part of a series of sayings that Coke has been doing for a while.  This one says 장수커플.  Literally “long life couple” but I think the meaning is more like “together forever”.  Actually, the last part, 커플, is what we call Konglish.  It is when you take Korean characters and use them to make English words.  In the car, 커 is like “caw” and 플 is like “pil”, so cawpil, or just couple. Same goes for the company name.  코(ko)카(ka) 콜(kol)라(la).

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In one sense it is a little easy to use some Korean and understand things.  In another its annoying because you want to practice your learning so much and get annoyed when you try to read a restaurant name sign only to read “chi” “ken” “doc” “tor”.

Fan Death! Beware!

I’m surprised that I haven’t dedicated a post to this so I am remedying this right now.  I’ll be drawing on Wikipedia as it is the best source of information (and those of you who look down on Wikipedia, you don’t know how it works!).

Fan death is a widely held belief in South Korea that an electric fan left running overnight in a closed room can cause the death of those sleeping inside.

That single statement has caused a whole nation to lose their ever-loving minds.  Their logic goes RIGHT out the door and their ignorance of how the world of physics really works is all they have.  While this sounds harsh, it is a fact of life here.  This myth is heavily perpetuated over generations and anyone from 7 to 70 believes this.  It is a single point of intellectual frustration to see such normally intelligent people get so dumb when it comes to this.  Let’s take a look at the lighter side in a video though.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oms2grI1TC0

The Koreans simply just listen to the news and absolutely ignore the ‘allegedly’ or ‘reportedly’ key words before the ‘fan death’ term.  Hell, if you tell them that NO WHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD has this belief, they don’t change their minds.

Gord Giesbrecht, a professor of thermophysiology at the University of Manitoba,[15] is a leading expert on hypothermia:

It’s hard to imagine death by fan, because to die of hypothermia, one’s body temperature would have to get down to 28°C, drop by 10 degrees [Celcius] overnight. We’ve got people lying in snowbanks overnight here in Winnipeg and they survive.

Their ‘logic’ will only point out that the person is not Korean.  As dumb as a defence that is, let’s go onto this then:

Dr. Lee Yoon-song is a professor at Seoul National University‘s medical school and works with the school’s Institute of Scientific Investigation. He has conducted autopsies on some of the people who have been described in Korean media as having succumbed to fan death:

When someone’s body temperature drops below 35 degrees, they do start to lose judgment ability. So if someone was hiking and later found dead, that could be part of the reason. But we can’t really apply this to fan accidents. I found most of the victims already had some sort of disease like heart problems or serious alcoholism. So hypothermia is not the main reason for death, but it may contribute.

Did you catch that?  A KOREAN citizen working at one of the highest rated NATIONAL universities here has stated that Fan Death does not exist.  He also touches on the lack of news reporters pointing out to any pre-existing conditions that are normally the real cause of death.

I defy any Korean to find me a medical report that definitively states the cause of death is due to a fan!

 

A couple of Korean experiences for you

Being in Korea, there never seems to be an end to the odd and/or annoying things that you find.  Allow me to tell you about packaging and random phone calls.

First packaging.  After opening chocolate bars and bags of chips a certain way for the vast majority of my life, ot had become one of those automatic skills that you take for granted.  Like how you automatically adjust your body on a moving surface that changes inclines.  You don’t think about standing upright, your body just does it.  It is built in.  Yet when it comes to Korean packaging, you simply can not pull apart the ends like you do on a bag of chips or a chocolate bar.  You can only tear it.

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Korean version of a Mars bar

For some reason, Korea has seen fit to use f#&!=+* super glue for their packaging and it gets me every time.  I buy something, try to open it and go “WTF?!”  Then I remember where I am and have to tear it open, not pull.  Super annoying.

Now, let’s talk about random phone calls.  Tell me, if you called a friend but got someone who did not speak your language on the other end, would you stay on the phone and keep asking for that person?  I didn’t think so.  I got a random call today, and answered the phone like I normally do. “Hello?”(clue #1).  The other person said the Korean version of hello (which is different than what you say to someone on the street/in person .  I forget what it means at the moment.)  I said hello again and he asked something in Korean.  I believe it was a persons name.  It kinda sounded like my Korean nickname.  So I said that I only speak a little Korean (in Korean)(clued #2) asked if that was the name.  He repeated the name again and my brain, still being a little slow at processing Korean, made me pause.  Then he said that ‘hello’ again.  I automatically repeated “hello”(clue #3 that you are not speaking to a Korean person and most likely the person you are looking for is not there).  He repeated the name again and I said there its no person here named that.

That was the longest random phone call i every had.  Usually when they hear English, they just hang up.  Not this guy though.  He wanted to hear a definite “아니요”(no in Korean, pronounced ah-nee-yo).

So there you have it.  I have taught you about Korean packaging and how to say “no” in Korean to a person on a random phone call. :)

I just ordered my first pizza over the phone in #Korea! (Update)

There are many things you need to learn before you can call a place and order food.  Sure the basics of what to call the food you are order, and where you life along with how much will it cost.  There is always the unexpected questions that throw you for a loop because you simply don’t know what the person said or the person said it too fast for you to catch.  Luckily this was not the case here.  The guy seemed to understand a bit of obvious English (“delivery” for example, even though I looked up the word, I have a healthy distrust of Google Translate at times for context).

The other thing you need to know is your address.  This can be a challenge because Korea is poised to switch from block addressing to street addressing.  Block addressing is kinda neat.  Each city block is given a number and each building on that is given a number as well.  So you could be block #100 and building #2.  Pretty  easy once you know it but too limited with all the growth that Korea has been experiencing for the last 50 years.  Old houses going down, new building going up tend to mess with this addressing system it seems.  Now Korea is switching to a more modern street address.  Street name, building number on that street name.  Just about every building now has a new address on it but not everyone is using it.  This will take some time because of the plethora of GPS devices.  Every taxi has one.  Just about everyone with a car has one.  It is surprising how little the Koreans know about having to get around without knowing where they are going.  With street addressing, this will probably be easier as all you have to do is find the street and then it’s a matter of just watching the numbers go up/down as you drive.

Well, I was able to give my address to the guy in Korean so my pizza should be here in 30 mins.  It’s a little exciting that I can now order food (basic stuff, it’s not like there’s much you can add to a pizza order, unlike other places with tons of options).  So this is more than me just being slightly lazy, it’s is a good test of me being able to interact in a foreign country…even if it’s just to order pizza :)

I’ll update the post if when the pizza gets here ok :)

Update!

Holy Crap!!  That was fast!  No soon had I published this post than the guy arrived minutes later!

Pizza!

Something that is pretty cool about Korea.  You always get a drink with your pizza (or chicken even!) when you order it.  It is a weird world here when you go to a restaurant and there is nothing to drink but water at times.  Most have now added drinks (pop, soju) now and it seems they extended this idea to delivery food as well.  Fine by me.  And delivery cost of the pizza is the same as if you went to pick it up.  This ‘regular size’ , 24cm pizza, with the cute little stubby 245ml can of Coke, costs about $10.  The blue container is sliced pickles, there is a packet of Parmesan cheese and a packet of hot sauce.  I’ll use the cheese and coke, but the rest is not useful to me.

Learning #Korean in #Korea

When I was in Canada, I was simply stunned at the number of immigrants that simply refused to learn English.  There are whole communities that never leave their area and never speak the language.  I find this attitude to be the ultimate insult to the place you are living in.  I mean, you wouldn’t go to a friend’s house, use his TV, toilet, fridge but never speak to your friends would you?  Yet there are people who do this.

So, since I am here, I am trying my best to learn the language.  It is not easy.  Oh, not because the language is hard, certainly there is a challenge there without question.  What I mean is that I have to learn English in order to learn Korean.

“What did you say?!”

You heard….errr….read that right.  I have to learn English in order to learn Korean.  Why do I say that?  I say that because as a native speaker, you rarely get into the technical details of a language of any significant depth yet that is what many books on other languages do.  Take this example:

어더 is attached to a noun to form a predictive verb.

– Practical Korea, my study book

What the heck is a predictive verb?!  Sigh….Google time.  Wikipedia should be fine.

There are two competing notions of the predicate in theories of grammar.

Wikipedia

Theories?!  THEORIES!  You mean this term, which I don’t ever recall hearing in high school, is not even a FACT?  Great, so not only do I have to learn English, it now seems I must learn English theory too before I can begin to learn Korean.  This is not my day…

Lets try another site.

Every complete sentence contains two parts: a subject and a predicate. The subject is what (or whom) the sentence is about, while the predicate tells something about the subject. In the following sentences, the predicate is enclosed in braces ({}), while the subject is highlighted.

Judy {runs}.
Judy and her dog {run on the beach every morning}.

University of Ottawa

Well this is certainly a hell of a lot better and easier to understand yet my brain is still mush over the first explanation.  I guessed this is just not the day for reading comprehension for me….

Translating Korean and Culture Shock

Culture shock can happen in many different ways. From the way people talk, the way people look or simply the weather you experience. Can you imagine yourself in such a foreign environment where you are a serious minority? For me, culture shock being in Korea has been the lack of diversity. Canada is such a melting pot of every other nation around the world, it is a real eye opener to see such homogeneous numbers of people. Add in constantly hearing another language and seeing different characters on every sign, it could be quite overwhelming to the vast majority of people who do such things as travel/move to another country.

Things we take for granted are completely reversed here. Let’s take people and walking. In Canada, the pedestrian has the right of way no matter what the scenario. Even should a person cross against a light, it would still be tough fight for any motorist trying to escape blame for not being vigilant enough to see the person they just hit. In Korea it is just the opposite. You cross the street in front of traffic at your own peril. Drivers will honk at you for your apparent lack of judgment. In many ways they have a good point. Cars weight 1800lbs+ while you might only be less than a 1/10th of that. You wouldn’t walk out in front of a charging elephant so why would you do so in front of a vehicles that weigh upwards of 1 TON or more? Simply a different way of thinking, neither right nor wrong, just different. Although, I think that having the onus on the driver is a much more mature way of responsibility.

Food. I have slightly touched on this subject previously but some more details are necessary. It’s quite easy for anyone to walk to the local grocery stores (that are popping up like Tim Hortons in Hamilton) and pick up some bananas. You can buy them by any size of bunch. You can even break up the bunch and buy only 3 or 4 if you will. You can also just grab some of the loose ones that others have broken off. Here this is not the case. They are sold in set sizes of bunches despite the selling methods (i.e. so much per weight). Here is the bunch we bought recently:

This cost $2.50
This cost $2.50

On top of being a rather large bunch for just two people, they are also ripe. I have yet to see green/unripened bananas in any store. One can also only eat so many bananas over any given time period.

The other day we bought a blender. I wanted to make sure it was glass as I’m working my best to use less plastic and more things where the material breaks down significantly less. The local “LotteMart” (kinda like a WalMart) had a range and the one we got was discounted because it was the last one and there was no box for it. We didn’t mind getting a 40,000KRW for 28,000KRW Smile

This blender was simple. It only had 3 buttons. I figured that it was one speed, one momentary and a stop. That is exactly what it was. More on that in a bit. The purpose for the blender was so I could resume my morning fruit smoothies that have been a great health benefit for me. The blender does an adequate job. It would be nicer to have a higher speed to finely chew up the apple skins, still nothing to give up on.

In order to function better I’ve also been thinking and searching for a method to translate Korean into English. Many would think, at first thought, that it would be easy but not so. There are all kinds of online translators but there is a severe limitation. Those online translators are excellent for translating English into 50+ other languages but no so much for the other way around. It takes a lot more work as how many of you have Korean characters on your keyboard? How would figure out to input a Korean(Hangul) character in order to get some sort of English equivalent?

So after some hard thinking I realized that Windows has the ability to switch languages fairly easily. Happens all the time in Canada with French characters seemingly popping up (notably on laptops) because some user hit a key-combination and now the / key makes an e with an accent. Ok, so adding in the Hangul keyboard is easily done thought the Languages settings on the control panel but now what? How do I know which character is which? I don’t but making a chart is easy Smile. I opened up a spreadsheet and in one column I put all the English characters and switched languages and the second column I used the same keys but saw the corresponding Hangul character that is assigned to that key.

It is worth noting that the Hangul character assigned to any key does NOT relate to the English equivalent at all. Meaning if I press the letter “a” and then switch to the Hangul character set and press the same key I get a Korean character. This Korean character is NOT the ‘a’ in their language. It is simply the character assigned to that key. The English-speaking world maybe used to the QWERTY keyboard but not a single other language uses any/all of those characters, thus no keyboard equivalent.

Ok, so now I have my conversion chart. I can now begin my translations Smile

The first thing I tackled was the heating control for our apartment. Although we were told which button does what, it would be infinitely more useful to know what the labels actually say. That and it’s good practice Smile

Doing my best to match up characters, I got the labels and they matched up quite well. Although I got English words for the Korean characters, sometimes translations are not literal and more of an idea. For example, you will see ‘out’ in the picture below. I didn’t quite understand that until Bharati said it was for when you leave the place to set the temperature. Normally we just turn it on and off as the place stays warm for quite some time and we still don’t know how to play with the temperature setting.

Temperature Control for our apartment
Temperature Control for our apartment

And I think I’ve gotten the understanding how to allow the heat to self-regulate. Still, the apartment is well insulated and it will take many hours before a noticeable change in temp is felt. I have this egg-shaped clock/alarm/thermometer that works well in letting us know the ambient temperature.

I have this cell phone with a dictionary built into it. It’s useful enough to get my point across. When I first met Minhye (a friend of Bharati’s friend) she spoke some English ok enough but there was tons of concepts that didn’t translate. The little cell helped get my ideas across and it was cool to be able to ‘converse’ enough to understand each other.

I’m still looking for someone to exchange language learning with. I really want to be fluent enough to carry on a decent conversation by this time next year.

We are looking forward to a trip to Bharati’s old town when she was here last, to see the Buddhist temple out there. We donated some money last time and got our names put on small brass Buddha statues that went on a shelf. Hoping to find them again Smile