Sunday, October 11, 2009

쉬워 보이지만 설명하기 어렵다

It's time to exercise the brain a bit. Look at the picture below and guess a common Korean phrase. (Hint: The phrase has 4 characters and commonly used during exclamation.)

If the picture doesn't ring a bell, get over it because this is not the main focus of this post. What I am going to talk about is 'simplicity' and 'difficulty' or something like that. Time to switch channel if you don't want anymore of 'brain exercise'.

Never-before-seen or what I like to call 'difficult' words, do not usually impede my understanding of an article I read. I can either guess the meaning or check up the dictionary. So, in some way, problem with 'difficult' words is actually an easy problem. But what I found most confusing, is those common and 'simple' word like 고, 도, 더, 야, 니 etc. I could misinterpret, at worst, the whole thrust of an article because of some simple words which I misunderstood. Sometimes, I thought I know but actually, I don't.

I like how my teachers explained 'simple' words. Their explanation is so precise and simple.

'고' indicates '완료' (completion, conclusion)
'도' indicates '양보' (give way, compromise)
'더' indicates '회상' (recall, look back)
'야' indicates '조건' (condition, term)
'니' indicates '자기 생각, 주장' (own thought, opinion, observation)

Despite such simple explanation, I found them most useful and enlightening. Take for example, the grammar ~더니, a combination of '더' and '니', which I have problem understanding previously. I can now guess that when a person uses 더니, he is saying about his opinion, thought or observation on someone or something while recalling his past experience. In brief, whatever is said by the speaker, can be taken as personal and subjective view. Dictionary definitely can't help much in such situation.

Life is a paradox. Simple-looking thing is difficult to explain but difficult-looking thing is easy to explain. An amateur has difficult explanation for what's seemed simple while an expert has difficult explanation for what's seemed difficult. It would thus take a wise man to explain both simple and difficult things simply.

If you think you can easily lead a simple life, think again. That, by itself, is difficult because life is a paradox. We are all more likely to be caught up in a 'difficult' life. What to do? Think simply: That's life.

[Answer: 큰일났다. Big 'One' = 큰일]

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