Language Exchange: Rice and Flowers

I would like to share a typical language exchange I had today with my friend Chulmoon, the organic rice farmer in South Korea.

I come off a lot better in text messages that I have time to compose with a Korean-English dictionary, Naver translatedongsa verb conjugator, and YellowBridge Chinese-English dictionary handy. These are all shortcuts on my PC web browser.

I am using words I sorta-know, but spelling and typing in Hangul are still a challenge.  I’m better at picking a word out of multiple choice options on Memrise.  I am mostly confident with the verb conjugation (but a quick check of dongsa soothes my nervousness at trying to make a sentence.)  Sentences are very simple.  Subject/object particles remain problematic for me.  Putting together a sentence takes me minutes.  Deciphering a simple sentence Chulmoon writes takes me twice that, which in real time conversations means I am always a few sentences behind.  Just call me slow.

We are 12 hours apart.  At 10 am, I had sent him a funny video about me trying fermented red ginseng tonic for the first time.  (Gaaahhh!)  A challenge for me, when we are actually both online at the same time, is that it is late at night, so my brain is not as sharp.  I get overwhelmed after a few sentences, tired brain.

What I will share has mistakes.  Showing it will give you an idea of where I am with my Korean writing.  My correction/translations in square brackets [] are my own.  The conversation took 45 minutes.

Julia: 선생님 Rob 저로 선뭏 줍니다. 홍삼음류. My teacher from Korean Digital Academy gave me a gift. Red Ginseng Tonic. I had never tasted it before. Strange taste. [선물]

Chulmoon:  Ye? Ginseng tonic? 발효 홍삼액?

Sure!! Good to get health!!!

From years ago, we take it for benefiting health care.

Julia:  How is your rice growing? Will this be a good harvest?

Chulmoon:  Hum—-.

It’s too early to say about that.


Julia:  저는 사진을 좋아해요.

Chulmoon:  호오!! 한국말 완전해요.  [O ho! Great! Korean makes complete sense.]

꽃눈이 막 피어 올랐어요.

[I am busily looking up in Naver translator to figure out what this sentence that starts with flower eyes might be …]


Julia:  What is the word for growing rice plant? 쌀 is hulled rice. I know you told me before. I forgot.

Chulmoon:  벼

Cooked rice is 밥. wink emoticon

Julia:  Chinese character for rice I have seen.

Chulmoon:  벼 is pure Korean. Not Chinese character.

Julia:  Ah. Good to know. I do not know enough Korean to differentiate native Korean vs Chinese-Korean words.

米 미 hulled or husked uncooked rice

Chulmoon:  Yes. 미 is Chinese character, and we read 미.

미 is uncooked rice. Just rice is 미 with Chinese character. And Korean reading is 쌀. wink emoticon

Julia:  꽃눈 = flower eye = Blooming flower bud. That is beautiful language. Poetry.

Chulmoon:  Hur hur—-.

Yes. 꽃눈 is poetry word.wink emoticon

Julia:  Today I drew a sunflower. 오늘 해바라기를 그렸어요.

Chulmoon:  벌써 해바라기가 피었어요?  [Sunflower has bloomed already?]

한국어 perfect!!!!



Chulmoon: 호오!!!!

Julia:  오늘 뭐 문철씨 했어요?

Chulmoon:  마늘 심었어요. 열무 local food market에 냈어요.

[I plant garlic. Young radish local food market to sell.]

Julia:  I want to ask “What did you do today?” Is that right? Is that natural way to ask?

Chulmoon:  예, 좋아요.  [Yes, good.]

오늘 문철씨 뭐 했어요가 더 부드러워요.  [“오늘 문철씨 뭐 했어요” is more smooth]

Julia:  마늘 garlic! I remember word. I plant garlic in my garden too.

Chulmoon: Ye? Over there, too?

Julia:  네!


허어. 그렇지!! 해는 똑같지 지구상에서는.wink emoticon

그런데 북반구와 남반구는 다를걸—.

같은 위도에 살고 있으니 마늘을 같은 때에 심는군요.

Julia:  Wow. My brain overflows Korean. Thank you for writing me Korean sentences. 밤 10 시 있어요. 나무 늦게. I am going to bed now. 아직 자요.

Chulmoon:  미안해요. 잘 자요.

Julia: Yes, we plant garlic in Fall here.

좋은 하루 되세요.





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