The Hoju Saram

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The difference one letter makes

Every week or so I have a korean language lesson at my 한국 친구 house. Usually this involves me getting articles from newspapers, magazines or the net and trying to read and translate them.

Last weekend I was given a sad story about a girl who sells matchsticks on the street to try and get money to eat. The title of the story was 성냥 팔이 그녀 (matchstick selling girl).

As at this time I had only had my new electronic dictionary for about 2 days I still wasn’t very good with the ㅏorean keyboard. So instead of typing in 성냥 (matchstick) I typed in 상냥 (gentle)

팔 means arm , but 팔다 means to sell. Because I typed matchstick wrongly I assumed 팔 meant arm in this case. So I thought the title was “Gentle armed girl”, not “Matchstick selling girl”. When I went to translate the story it made no sense at all, and I got very confused. About 30 minutes later I realised my mistake and could read the article.

What a difference a single letter makes.

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