Pay tribute to me! Mistakes in Korean


It’s been a while since I’ve updated my Miss Interpretation section. Not because I’m not making mistakes, but mainly because they’ve been relatively boring mistakes. I haven’t said anything really inappropriate or completely grammatically incorrect in a while, but I’ve continued to make little mistakes without advancing much. Sigh. I need to get down to business to defeat the Huns and actually get back into intense studying.

Actual photo of me. I’m secretly a muscular Chinese man, but don’t tell anyone.

I did, however, have any interesting conversation with one of my language partners on Skype last week. We haven’t talked on Skype in a really long time because I’ve been so busy and I’m terrible at getting back to people on social media (mainly because I read the message and then completely forget that I haven’t replied. Isn’t thinking enough? I guess other people just haven’t mastered telepathy yet. What a shame.) so I usually include “reply to everyone ever” on my to do list. Not like many people message me.

It’s all Enrique’s fault, too. Darn that flower boy for living next door and stealing all my people with his good looks.


We were chatting about financial matters in a mixture of English and Korean (mainly English because he tends to monopolize the conversation and overrule my poor Korean with his better English….not that I’m bitter about this………..), as I’m going to study abroad at Yonsei University this fall semester, and he’s working and saving so that he can attend college in the US.

We were talking about the challenges of paying for education and I was explaining about the scholarships that I’ve applied for but I couldn’t remember the word for it in Korean. He reminded me that it’s 장학금 (jang-hak-geum), and I excitedly recognized that the last syllable, 금, is common in other money-related words. Huzzah for connections! They make learning a language so fascinating and also aid the whole how-on-earth-do-I-remember-different-words thing.

“Oh!” I said. “Just like 헌금!”

He gave me a surprised look. “How do you know that word?”

“It’s a useful word to know, that’s why I learned it. I usually have at least some 헌금 with me, and sometimes family members give me 헌금 as a present.”

He started laughing and I realized that I had mixed up 현금 and 헌금. 헌금 (heon-geum) means offering, like a donation of money one might make at church. 현금 (hyeon-geum) is cash, which is what I meant to say. But I had confidently told my language partner that I’m basically a deity and people pay tribute to me.

Mushu is my spirit animal. Also, clearly I want to re-watch Mulan right now.

Now for the learning part of this mistake!

If you check out the word 장학금 on Naver Dictionary, you’ll find that it’s based on these Chinese characters: 奬學金. While I know perhaps 150 or so hanja thanks to my previous independent studies of Japanese kanji (thank you Wanikani! I promise I shall return to you some day.), it’s not enough to be of any use including hanja in my Korean writing/reading. However! It’s exciting to compare the hanja for words with similar meanings and and an identical syllable.


장학금 ………… 奬學金…………….scholarship

현금 ………………..現金…………….cash



Oho! Look at that. 金 appears in each word to signify 금 (geum) in Korean, and this symbol means gold or money in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.

See how much you can learn from making mistakes? Mistakes can be such wonderful things when you’re learning a language. And they don’t always have to be embarrassing.

Have you learned from any mistakes recently?



지금 재생 중


Note: unless otherwise stated, any and all gifs are not mine.



2 thoughts on “Pay tribute to me! Mistakes in Korean

  1. This is very interesting, I’ve realized I’ve made the same mistake aha. I’m wanting to study abroad, which 장학금 have you applied for? If you don’t mind me asking.
    언니의 다 도와를 위해 감사합니당!


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