When your Korean writing sounds like English

Hello and Happy New Year, everyone! I’d like to address a problem that a lot of people probably have when they start out writing in a new language. That problem is one’s writing sounding like words of the new language shoved into the grammar of their native language.

Stop thinking in English!

If your writing turns out sounding like you’re putting English words into Korean grammar, that’s probably because you’re still thinking in English and trying to translate it into Korean instead of just naturally thinking and writing in Korean. It’s a skill that takes time and practice—the most your study Korean, the more automatic your usage of it becomes until you don’t even need to think about it anymore. Of course, once you hit this stage, your writing won’t automatically be perfect. However, it will sound a lot more fluid.

Figurative language often doesn’t translate well…

Another problem could be trying to use English figurative speech, flow, or phrasing in Korean. This is a problem I suffer from still, and the only way to really fix this is a lot of native input. For example, when I would write long journals (I need to get back on that) and show them to my boyfriend (native Korean speaker) to check, he would get confused by some of my sentences. They were grammatically correct, but he was still confused by the feeling they were meant to convey or whatever because I was unconsciously trying to incorporate the literary-style English I’m familiar with into my Korean writing, or because I would write in a stream-of-thought way that, while fluid in English, was just awkward in Korean. I’ve gotten better at avoiding these errors, but my mind still unconsciously wants me to write that way sometimes!

How can I check my writing?

If you’re particularly having this problem with writing, I suggest making a Lang-8 account and posting your writing on there. Native speakers can correct it for you, and maybe you’ll start to see patterns in which errors you make most commonly.

Happy studying~