Putting Pippi to Bed… One Million More to Go

“[Good Man], how many words is 할 수 있다? One, two, three?” Koreans are rather lazy about spacing words. 할수있다, 할수 있다, 할 수 있다… Eh, whatever.

“Four,” he replied.

“Four?” I’d never seen 할 수 있 다.

“Yeah, 할…수…있…다.”

Turns out, you don’t count words in Korean, you count 글자 (syllables).

I finished Pippi (in Korean) Saturday night. I started reading it November 9th, so it took four weeks to finish it. It was surprisingly enjoyable. I rarely used the dictionary, guessed at a lot of meaning, and didn’t worry (too much) about parts I didn’t understand.

I studied Spanish in high school for one year and in college for two years. Apparently this was supposed to make me functional in the language (ha!). Yet I was never asked to read a book for pleasure in Spanish. We always studied the language deeply—focusing on short passages and chewing them up and spitting them out. This meant that I always focused on the vocab I didn’t know and I didn’t really grow confident in my ability. I wonder if my attitude would’ve been different if I’d been given the option to just…read.

To that end, I am reconsidering my language learning goals for 2010. I usually set goals based on my Sogang books and then I fail because I get stuck on lessons I don’t like, such as pharmacy words (I’m looking at you, Sogang 3B, lesson 3!).

Instead, I’ve decided to read 1,000,000 글자 in Korean in 2010.

One million words averages out to 2,740 words a day. Pippi was about 62,000 글자. If I’m really going to reach this goal, it means most of my pleasure reading will be done in Korean.

Since it’s hard to get books I like in Korean around here (even at the Korean bookstore), my list of books to buy has gotten longer.

Three Pippi books
Diary of Anne Frank (and the cartoon version)
Half Magic
Super. Naive.
Chronicles of Narnia (complete set)

I also have 소나기 (a Korean tale) and some other short stories to get through. I’m sure I’ll think of some more books to add…