Chipping Away at the Language Barrier

People in Korea speak Korean but their written language is called Hangul.  For example, the Hangul form of "hello" is 안녕하세요 and the romanization of it (the way it's pronounced written in the Roman alphabet) is annyeonghaseyo.  Because of the US military base here, you'll see English translations written under Hangul words on some things, especially signs, but most things are written only in Hangul which makes translation very difficult.  Words written in foreign languages that use the Roman alphabet can at least be sounded out and sometimes even resemble their English equivalents, but there is no hope for that with words written in a foreign alphabet.

How are we adjusting to life here without being able to read Hangul?  Technology is a beautiful thing :)  My amazing husband bought me an iPhone to use here and it has proven to be worth it's weight in gold.  We have a few Apps that get used everyday to help us understand the world of symbols surrounding us.  However, nothing is perfect.  As in every language, there are multiple ways to say the same thing depending on audience and context.  The iPhone Apps can tell us what something written in Hangul means and how to say something in Korean but sometimes things still manage to get lost in translation.

We have two Apps that allow us to type something in English or Hangul and get a translation.  We can switch between a Roman alphabet and Hangul alphabet.  It will show us the word/phrase in English, Hangul, and the phonetic romanization.  We can press the little speaker button to hear it spoken in Korean.

We also have the Lonely Planet Korean Phrase Book App that allows us to choose an English word or phrase, arranged by category, and it gives us the Hangul and phonetic romanization versions.  As on the others, we can press the little speaker button to hear it spoken in Korean.

Johnnie used these Apps to translate our Korean appliances before I got here.  We have sticky tabs on most things to help us use them.

The dishwasher

The stove

The washer/dryer

The fridge

The "musical" toilet - gotta love the seat warming option :)

The intercom system - if someone rings our apartment from the front door of the building or from outside our apartment door, we can see them on this monitor (they can't see us), talk to them through the intercom, and open the door for them.  We can also call other apartments in the complex using this.

"A different language is a different vision of life."
-Federico Fellini

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Very interesting. In fact, this Korean greeting is the only word I have know for many years. We are enjoying all of your writings; especially reading about you both and... Korea. Very clever about the translation used on the appliances. We miss you! and love you very much. Hugs.