Studying Korean

I am re-reading The Little Prince in Korean (어린 왕자), in graphic novel format. I got to chapter four with the king. He kept ending verbs in “-라.”

I asked Good Man about it. “What is this 오서 오너라? 모모 하지 마라?”

“Ahhh, that is 하노라 form. It’s used by kings and yangban class—”

I held up my hand and started shaking my head. It was as I’d expected. “Nevermind, I don’t need to memorize this. I will just ignore the ending.”


Since staying with Mother for more than a week has put the fear of the mother-in-law in me, I’ve been studying Korean more lately. Conveniently, this lines up with Gori Girl’s language challenge. As such, I’ve been posting more over at 한국어 공책. A week ago, I posted this.

From next week through the end of this year, I will study Korean 1 hr a day, 5 days a week, including writing 1 journal entry of at least 1 page, size 12, double-spaced in Korean.

If I succeed, I get to spend $50 on Korean books. If I fail, well, I suck.

I haven’t gotten to an hour a day most days. But I’ve gotten close. The five hours a week part is what I’m really aiming for, but I didn’t want it to turn into a weekend of massive study sessions.

As part of my goal, I’ve decided to participate in National Blog Posting Month—over at 한국어 공책. I’ll be posting once a day about my studies. It’s mostly going to be a boring account of what I’ve studied, but at least it’ll keep me honest!

Grammar Books

I also found two new Korean grammar books on Amazon, Basic Korean and Intermediate Korean, both subtitled A Grammar and Workbook. They are published by Routledge.

I have Korean Grammar for International Learners already. It’s good. It’s very detailed. It also has sentences like this (about 과/이, 하고, (이)랑, found on page 159).

When coordinate particles are used in conjunction with predicates which require two nouns, they express the idea that the two nouns either have something in common or are comparable.

Compare this to Basic Korean, page 102.

The particle 와/과 tends to be used in formal or written communication. […] The particle (이)랑 tends to be used for more informal and/or colloquial settings. […] There is no apparent meaning difference between 하고 and the other two particles 와/과/(이)랑. However, 하고 seems to be less [formal] than 와/과 but more formal than (이)랑.

Well, that finally explains why Good Man uses (이)랑 when ordering things at a restaurant! That also explains why I see (이)랑 in writing in children’s books and when people are speaking banmal in books, but I only see 와/과 in newspapers.

I think International and both Routledge books are useful to Korean learners. International Learners has a much, much better index than the Routledge books. And it had grammar points I haven’t found elsewhere. The publisher (Yonsei University Press) also has a separate grammar workbook. This is an excellent reference book.

The explanations in the Routledge books are much clearer to someone who hated learning grammar in school. Also, the exercises are built right into the books, which people might find more convenient. These books seem more “readable” and seem easier to study. Also, before the exercises in each chapter there’s a word list of necessary vocabulary.

I’ve been reading Basic but not doing the exercises. I’m reviewing things I already know and it’s clarifying things I’ve come to sense over time.