I may be half-Korean, but my knowledge of Korean is pretty poor. The main reason is lack of exposure — I just don’t need nor use much Korean in a day, week, or month. Use it or lose it, y’know?
When I was studying a Korean martial art, I had actually brushed up on my Korean speaking and reading skills pretty well, but since that time, everything’s waned. Heck, if there’s any second speaking/reading (as opposed to programming) language I should know, it’d be Spanish, given the daily exposure I have to it.
Still, some time ago I came across this nifty little resource on How to Read Korean in 15 Minutes (and I always meant to blog about it, so finally here I am). The cool thing is Hangul is phonetic, so once you recognize the characters, sounding things out isn’t that difficult. Of course, to fully understand Korean is another matter, but I’ve found the ability to read and sound things out to be useful.
Wife loves Korean pancakes (Pa-Jeon). My mom told me I needed to look for this flour/powder mix called “Buchim Garu” (that’s how you pronounce it). She told me over the phone, so I knew what the words sounded like, but I had no idea what it looked like. And of course, everything at the Korean grocery store will be written in Korean.
Enter the joy of the phonetic language!
I was in the store aisle that was obviously of the flowers and powder mixes. I picked up bags, looked at labels, and tried sounding things out (hopefully your browser/computer can show Korean)
부침 (bu… chim…)
부침가루 HA! Buchim Garu!
I was triumphant. :-)
(Funny… Google Translate translates that as “fluctuations powder”. Heh. “Frying powder” is more correct, but I like fluctuations powder)