Caveat: A List Of Languages I Have Failed To Learn

I just had an interesting brainstorm, after writing my previous entry earlier this morning.

I think a great, alternate title for this blog would be: "A List Of Languages I Have Failed To Learn."

If I was starting this blog right now, that is the title I would use. It might make a great title for an autobiographical novel, too.

Here is another picture from Sunday.


Sun 085

It's a view of the Korean National Folk Museum, as seen from within the Gyeongbok Palace grounds next door. The museum was quite disappointing on the inside – "just another Korean history museum, the same as every other Korean history museum in most respects." But the external architecture of the place, which might be termed "Neo-Imperial Faux Pagoda," was pretty impressive.

Unrelatedly, a quotation:

"I love the word Disenchantment. It’s a word only used by the stupid becoming wise against their will." – a commenter who goes by "BlaiseP," at the Website Whose Name Disenchants Me.

Caveat: хлеб ржаной кисло-сладкий

Bread 002
When in Seoul on Sunday and showing my friend around we went into the Russianish neighborhood just west of Dongdaemun, where I stopped in an Uzbek/Russian bakery I sometimes frequent. It used to be you could buy dark rye bread, locally made in the Russian style, but the last few times I’ve been there they haven’t had it. Now they’re selling packaged dark rye bread imported from Tashkent (Uzbekistan). It’s just as tasty but it rather violates any notions of localism or freshness. I suppose it’s not different than going to Homeplus and buying cheese from Europe or getting fruit from Chile. The world is round.

The label says “Sourdough rye bread” in Russian (“хлеб ржаной кисло-сладкий”) and under that the same in Uzbek, I think (using roman letters “lotin”) – I figured that out because “javdar” is Uzbek for rye (Russian: рожь / adjective form ржаной).

Bread 001There are a lot of interesting and complex commercial relationships between South Korea and the Central Asian countries, driven partly by the large Korean diaspora found in those countries (engineered by Stalin during his rearrangement of ethnic groups, such as moving Koreans native to the Russian Pacific [i.e. just northeast of Korea] to all kinds of far-flung places), but also by the fact that South Korea was viewed as a “neutral” country with which to develop commercial relationships after the fall of the Soviet Union – unlike the other major economic players: the US or EU or Russia or China or Japan or India or Iran, all of which had various perceived geopolitcial agendas. As a result, Korean businesses are quite strong in Central Asia and there are a lot of Central Asians in Seoul, for whom the lingua franca is generally Russian (the Soviet legacy).

I often gravitate to Russian when feeling frustrated by my efforts with Korean. I studied Russian in college, 20+ years ago, and progressed pretty far with it. I was probably better at Russian in 1989 than I am in Korean now. But having not used it at all for more than two decades means it’s all dormant and rusty in my brain. I suspect I could resurrect it pretty easily, though.

Caveat: 석가에게 설법하기

석가에게    설법하기
Buddha-TO preach-GER
Preaching to Buddha.

English equivalents might be “Preaching to the choir” or “Teaching your grandmother to suck eggs.” I hate the latter proverb – it’s both incomprehensible to modern speakers and kind of gross to think about. But I guess there was a time when people’s grandmothers were expert egg-suckers, and so teaching your grandmother to suck eggs was an unnecessary effort.

I had a very long day, although I only had three classes. There’s a lot of tension in the office and staffroom lately. I’m feeling a lot of uncertainty and big changes brewing.

Here is a picture from the temple wall at 미타사 from last weekend.

Bbday 001