Proverbs: A Korean Speciality
Korean is a beautiful language, lovely to listen to and steeped in a long history and a deep culture. To untrained ears it can sound harsh or unpoetic, but those of us in the translation services business tend to regard it as one of the more lyrical languages we deal with. Part of this quality comes from the immense number of common proverbs that the language contains and which are used every day. These splendid pieces of wisdom are difficult to translate into English effectively, but they make speaking Korean a true pleasure. Here are a few of my favourites!
Favourite Korean Sayings
My all-time favourite Korean proverb is “A great river does not refuse any small streams.” Proverbs, of course, can have many meanings and you must bring your own interpretation to them, but I’ve always thought this was a piece of wisdom about not thinking too highly of yourself – you must always accept the contributions of people around you, because your success is the sum of many other people’s work.
I have found the proverb “A man’s youth will never die, unless he kills himself” to be very affecting. Too many of us are eager to get older – we try to speed through our childhood to become adults, and then we spend our time pursuing what we think are acceptable adult goals, but we should try to keep that inner child alive as long as we can. You are only truly old when you force yourself to be!
Some of my favourites are, of course, just common sense put in a beautiful way, such as “You will hate a beautiful song if you sing it often.” Even languages, my first true love, can sometimes wear on me a little. I work with them every day, and sometimes get tired of them, and when that happens believe it or not I think of this wonderful phrase and it cures me – because it’s true, if you do something you love too much it can lose some lustre, but then this proverb reminds me of how wonderful language is, and I am back!
Think a little about your own native language and how the wonderful, playful phrases add life and character to your everyday conversations. It’s my goal to make everyone into a Word Nerd like me, and these beautiful phrases are my secret weapon!