Sunday, July 31, 2011

Does Heaven repay those who bury 2-headed snakes?

"The Tale of the Two-headed Snake"

When Son-suk Oh (孫叔敖) was a young child (為嬰兒), he went out to play (出遊), but when he returned (而還), he was upset (憂) and would not eat (而不食). His mother (其母) asked (問) the reason (其故).

While crying (泣而), he answered (對曰),"Today (今日), I saw (吾見) a 2-headed snake (兩頭蛇), so I fear (恐) I have no days left before going to death (去死無日矣).

His mother asked (母曰), "Now (今), where is the snake (蛇安在)?"

Answering (曰), "I heard (吾聞) a person who sees a 2-headed snake (見兩頭蛇者) dies (死). I feared (吾恐) others (他人) would also see (又見), so I have already (已) buried it (埋之矣).

His mother said (母曰), "Don't worry (無憂). You won't die (汝不死). I have heard that (吾聞之) if there are those who do good secretly (有陰德者), Heaven (天) repays them (報) with blessings (以福).


Friday, July 22, 2011

Is Puberty a Good Time to Start Learning Korean?

A seventh grade girl is attracted to a Korean-American boy and starts learning Korean. Four years later, she becomes the first "non-Korean" to win second place in a Korean speech contest hosted by the U.S. National Association for Korean Schools. Then, after a phone interview with a Korean reporter, the girl is described by the reporter as being able to speak Korean as if it were her mother tongue.

Four years may seem like a long time to learn a language, but when learning Korean, it is not that long, especially if you are trying to learn it outside Korea.

Link to Article

And she is very good.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

"If I were a leaf," by Gerry Bevers

If I were a leaf, I'd want to be
One of a sprawling sycamore tree.
Then under my soulful, silent shade,
Young and old could drink pink lemonade.

Summer showers go splitter splatter,
But under me it would not matter.
My friends and I would be broad and green,
Stopping the raindrops while staying clean.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

How do Koreans say "to pass the buck"?

The American idiom "to pass the buck" is translated in Korean as 책임을 전가하다. 책임(責任) means "responsibility," and 전가(轉嫁) means "to impute" or "to attribute."

What I find interesting about the Korean expression is that 전가(轉嫁) also means "to remarry" on the part of a woman. The Chinese characters literally mean "transfer the wife's marriage."

Unloading your wife onto the back of another man seems like a perfect example of "passing the buck."

Monday, June 20, 2011

Are you a Hypocrite or a Good Deed Doer?

Confucius wrote:
Heaven repays a person who does good with blessings and a person who does bad with calamity. 
 爲善者天報之 以福,  爲不善者天報之 以禍 (위선자천보지이복, 위불선자천보지이화)
爲善者(a do good person) 天報之(Heaven repays him) 以福 (with blessings),  爲不善者(a do no good person) 天報之(Heaven repays him) 以禍 (with calamity).
Based on the above Confucian saying, 위선자(爲善者) can be translated as "a good deed doer," so why do modern day Koreans use 위선자(僞善者) to mean "hypocrite"?

The answer lies with the Chinese characters for 위. Notice that the Chinese character for the 위(爲) in "good deed doer" is slightly different than the 위(僞) in "hypocrite." 爲(위) means "do," but 僞(위) means "lie, pretend" The other two characters are exactly the same: 善 (선 - good), 者(자 - person). Therefore, the Korean word for "hyprocrite," 위선자(僞善者), literally means "a pretend good person."

The next time someone calls you a 위선자, you can reply, "Really? I guess that means I can expect blessings from Heaven."

Sunday, June 19, 2011

"The Cycle of Life," by Gerry Bevers

At Seventy-two or fifty-three,
The Angel of Death is eyeing me.
I do not fear him for I know,
Like flowers and trees, we all must go.

Back to the earth from which we came,
Your dirt and my dirt will be the same.
Our lives as humans may come to an end,
But another awaits just ‘round the bend.

I may come back as a tomato plant,
Or if I’m lucky, a giant elephant.
Life eternal would be a bore,
Nature offers much, much more.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

How would you translate 란/이란 in English?

란/이란 is a topic marker similar to 은/는 that attaches to nouns, but is more emphatic than 은/는. It is an abbreviation of (이)라는 것은. The marker 란 attaches to nouns that end in a vowel (eg. 친구란), and the marker 이란 attaches to nouns that end in a consonant (eg. 가족이란).

The marker essentially announces that you are about to define or explain the noun to which it is attached, as the following example shows.
친구란 어려울 때 도와줄 수 있는 사람이에요.

A friend is someone who helps you in difficult times.
Dictionaries often show "as for" as an English equivalent of 란/이란, but normally we would not translate it in English. However, in spoken English, we usually show the emphatic nature of the marker by stressing the noun to which 란/이란 is attached and then pausing before continuing on with the definition or explanation of the noun, as demonstrated below:
A friend--is someone who helps you in difficult times.
In the above example, the boldface type is meant to indicate stress, and the hyphens (dash) are meant to indicate a pause.

Normally, Koreans also pause after the marker 란/이란 before continuing on with the definition or explanation of the word or phrase to which it is attached.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

"Raising Boys," by Gerry Bevers

Twelve year old boys can surprise,
Not as innocent as some surmise.
To a young boy in the spring,
Girls can be a curious thing.

Discarded magazines were the way,
We learned of girls back in my day.
Now the Internet is the teacher,
The female body, the main feature.

Don't trust your son with a computer,
For it can be a mind polluter.
The female body is quite beautiful,
But some sites are just not suitable.

Monday, February 14, 2011

"Genesis" -- by Gerry Bevers

Our God is the Sun,
the creator of life,
the sustainer of life.

His essence is Hydrogen,
the smallest of seeds,
the source of all matter.

Hydrogen begets Helium,
and Helium begets Carbon,
with whom Hydrogen bonds
to give birth to all living things.

The God of our God is Gravity,
the unseen Force of the universe
that brings it all together.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Snowy Night" by Gerry Bevers

Just beyond my window pane,
Gently falls white winter rain.
Fluffy flakes floating down,
Softly landing without sound.

As my world waxes winter white
Reflecting stars and soft moonlight,
The silent sadness of the lonely night
Fades away into soft delight.

Friday, January 28, 2011

"Please" by Gerry Bevers

I'm battening down the hatches.
And fastening all the sashes.
I just want to be left alone.

Please ask me no questions.
Please make no suggestions.
I just want to be left alone.

No need to worry,
Or to feel sorry.
I just want to be left alone.

I'm not at all bitter,
Just things to consider.
So, please just leave me alone.