Dictionary aims to bridge cultural gap“For us, English is a foreign language and not our mother tongue. It is a means and not an objective,” said Lee Jean-young, a 47-year-old assistant professor at the Graduate School of Translation and Interpretation, Ewha Womans University.
“Don’t try to roll your pronunciation unnecessarily, but rather focus on delivering the meaning accurately,” Ms. Lee recommends.
Ms. Lee recently released a Korean-English dictionary aimed at interpreters and translators that helps facilitate conversation in subjects ranging from politics to economics to culture.
Ms. Lee is a veteran interpreter who has participated in more than 900 international events in her 10-year career. She said she wrote the dictionary because many Koreans have difficulty conversing in English on subjects outside their profession.
“For example, it’s hard to talk about current issues like presidential elections or the stock market. This dictionary consists of different ways of discussing various subjects,” Ms. Lee said.
According to Ms. Lee, her dictionary does more than provide meanings of words; it actually assists with practical conversation.
The 10,000 English expressions included are based on Ms. Lee’s own experiences, and contains some terms commonly misused by Koreans.
For example, when describing a Web site that casts aspersion on a certain person or a group, Koreans tend to say, “anti site.” Ms. Lee corrects this term to “hate site.”
Ms. Lee said converting Korean into English is not a simple matter of changing words, but touches on the differences between the two cultures.
Ms. Lee has lectured students on interpretation since 1999 as an assistant professor at Ewha.
“It’s really tough to interpret at more than 100 events a year while lecturing six to eight hours a week,” Ms. Lee said.
“But like giving birth the second time after completely forgetting the pains of labor from the first experience, I can’t give up on my work, as it gets more exciting with time,” she said.
With her first dictionary out, Ms. Lee plans to continue posting new English expressions on her personal Web site, www.jeanyounglee.com.
by Shin Yae-ri