Authentic Content vs Translations

I read almost 50 books in Korean this year. Most were books that I would’ve had access to in English. In fact, many of them were books I’ve read in English.

Interestingly, I found that reading books I’ve read in English was both easier and harder than blind reading in Korean. It was easier because I had some background knowledge, but it was harder because I tended to think in English while reading those books. I tended to remember big moments from the books in English in my head, and then I’d search for them in Korean in the books. It became a bit distracting.

But I bought so many books that were translations from English because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to read in Korean. When I was in Korea last year, I couldn’t read enough to figure out what I wanted to read!

The library books from my co-worker’s daughter have been a godsend! Those books expanded my horizons and allowed me to take reading risks with no financial risk.

At least ten of the books I read were ones I would not have had access to in English. If I count the Kare First Love manga series (would I would not have read in English, but enjoyed reading in Korean), I read more than twenty books I wouldn’t’ve been able to read in English.

English is such an international language that it’s easy to think that we have access to enough books to read. And perhaps we do. Still, there is something magical about getting access to a whole other language-worth of books.

I read several awesome picture books that are only available in Korean, including one about a man who sucked up his wife in the vacuum cleaner. (Seriously. It was awesome.) I learned about the moon rabbits because I could read about them in Korean.

I ended up reading some propaganda that I borrowed from the gu office in Seoul when Good Man and I were registering our marriage. I learned “nuclear weapon” from that book and figured out a lot of political words from context.

I enjoyed the book about the third grade boy who was growing up (I’m Not a Kid Anymore) because it was such a Korean book.

Although I ended up throwing Body across the room, I am still amazed that I was able to read a book for Korean adults in Korean.

Now that I can truly read native content in Korean, it makes me even hungrier for the language!

(Cross posted.)