I think reading is effective for learning your target language only if you find a way to make it more comprehensible. You still get benefit from reading a lot while looking up nothing but the benefit is so minuscule compared to reading something on the kindle where you can look up stuff instantaneously with very little effort due to its amazing pop-up dictionary ( You can even generate anki cards from the dictionary look ups via anki plugins). I have been looking into how to read a korean ebook (without drm) with dictionary look-up on an ereader this past week because I really hate how I can’t look up anything on the kindle. Your only option for learning Korean on the kindle is to highlight all the sentences you want to look up later as you read. I thought if insert hanja into the text via hanjaro that that would be enough to make reading in Korean on the kindle more conducive to learning but it’s not enough. Usually I more often don’t know korean-korean words as opposed to sino-words when I read Korean since I use hanjaro (and most or half the time it’s correct or at least helpful). What I especially love about the kindle is that I have no desire to add words to anki when I read stuff on it. The reason is that my interest in the word in question is at its peak the moment read it in the compelling book while possessing the knowledge of the full context. So when I look up the word on the kindle my curiosity is usually completely satisfied and I understand the sentence much better than before I looked it up ( don’t know about you but I usually suck at guessing/inferencing from the meaning of an unknown word based on text) and I could care less whether or not I’ll remember the meaning of the word or the word itself 30 minutes from that moment (Also I never understood the appeal of language notebooks where you copy the dictionary/example sentence etc in a notebook when you look-up words while reading… sounds time-consuming and ineffective to me). I sometimes highlight sentences and stuff if there are stuff I want to look up that I can’t look up or find in the kindle dictionary.
So it is possible to make a kindle dictionary for Korean-English. I came across one, I made 2 of them myself (from lingoes dictionary) but it seems like the kindle’s firmware doesn’t allow it to work somehow?? The dictionaries show up on the kindle but then when I look up a korean word it keeps pointing me to this same dictionary entry (I think it was margarita lol. I was livid since I was so close) regardless of what word I press on. They just don’t work on the kindle but there’s nothing wrong with the dictionary files themselves. I know they’re formatted perfectly exactly the way kindle wants it.
I got the boyue likebook 7.8 inch ANDROID ereader in 2018 or 2017 (can’t remember) for the purpose of reading manga since the price seemed reasonable (to search for other android ereaders check out the good ereader blog or ebook reader blog). It was around $185 and I figured if I read 37 manga I would’ve gotten my money’s worth. I definitely did since JIN is 20 volumes, bokutachi ga yarimasita is 9 volumes and liar game is 19 volumes and I read other stuff too. It’s ironic because right now I’m not reading any manga on it. I will go back to manga once I finish reading this PDF of this korean novel (I think it’s a light novel if such a genre exists in Korean writing).
During my kindle investigation I realized that android ereaders might be the ONLY SOLUTION. I found this forum post about using goldendict as a pop-up dictionary on the Moon+ Reader app. So I got the apps and loaded all the stardict dictionaries (they’re available for free! Just google) for Korean onto it and it works! I loaded Naver Korean-japanese, korean-korean, quick korean-english, edocu korean-english from lingoes, and vicom korean-english (I think the naver dictionaries are from 2009 because they match the lingoes dictionaries that were uploaded in 2009. ). Coincidentally the max number of dictionaries for the free version of goldendict is 5 dictionaries. The downsides are the lag and that the pop-up dictionary only does exact match. I mention lag because it’s slower than a tablet or a smartphone since it’s an ereader but it’s not ridiculously laggy and slow. Also if you were to read it on the smartphone/tablet you can configure it so the word is looked up on naver so you don’t have to do any deconjugating. As for the exact match, I sometimes have to erase letters just so the goldendict dictionary suggests “are you looking for this word?” in the dictionary window and then I click on the word in question. Other times I partially select the word before hitting dictionary look-up so that goldendict can suggest the word once the dictionary window opens. For example for 가다듬기 I selected 가다듬 then clicked dic to bring the dictionary up, then tapped on the search bar, at that point goldendict gives me suggestions such as 가다듬다 which I click on. For stuff like 서려서, I would either highlight the whole sentence to look up later or type 서리다 in the dictionary window ( only problem is I risk the chance of wasting my time if the word is in none of the dictionaries anyway. For some reason goldendict adds a space at the end of the word but it doesn’t affect the search results so I don’t bother erasing it and just type whatever I need to type to bring up the results ) . Also if the dictionary entry defines the word as a stronger/weaker version of x I can long press on x, copy it, then paste it in the search bar. Combining hanjaro with this pop-up dictionary makes reading in Korean so much more fun (since obviously it’s more fun when you understand what you’re reading), less burdensome, less exhausting, conducive to learning, and I feel no pressure to make up anki cards for words I look up. I like reading korean with hanja inserted as I explained in my love letter to hanjaro! Moonreader has other dictionary options like google translate and some other web translations but I never use them. I am kinda frugal so that part of me likes how this method does not require Wi-fi. One of the advantages of an ereader versus the smartphone/tablet IS the battery life… Though this isn’t as convenient and ideal as clicking on a word to have it looked up on naver dictionary automatically unconjugated, it’s still incredibly helpful and convenient for me at my current korean level since I’m not a beginner. I can imagine that this ereader reading method may not have much appeal to someone who has to look up 10-20 words a page. Though I would recommend such a person to do something else and go back to novels later since it sounds like the book is too hard or their Korean would be better improved through other activities.
Actually now that I think about it, even if the dictionary worked in kindle it’s inferior to goldendict since it searches via exact matches (most of the korean dictionaries don’t have the inflections included) and it doesn’t give you the option to search the dictionary like with the 가다듬다 example I mentioned. As far as I know that only one of the 5 dictionaries has inflections (all the manys ways you conjugate stuff ie 가다듬다, 가다듬기. Korean grammar is super convoluted so the inflection list would be very long if you were to make a kindle dictionary that functions well. ) but even then it has less entries than naver korean-japanese dictionaries so I’m not sure how helpful it’d be. After all the whole point of reading novels is so you can come across words you don’t necessarily hear/read everyday.
Because goldendict doesn’t dictionary save look-ups, the only way to save sentences to make anki cards is to highlight or add notes (copy/paste the dictionary entry. Moon reader gives me the option of copying the text or looking up the word in the dictionary when I tap once which works great for japanese since there’s no space between the words. I can also highlight text in the dictionary to copy if I long press but dragging is annoying so I stick to the normal tap) on the ereader app. The moon+ reader app allows multiple highlight options such as squiggly line, straight line, different colors. I stuck with the squiggly line since I like the way it looks. To highlight I long press on a word, extend the highlight as far as I need it to be extended, then click on the highlight option among the options of HIGHLIGHT, NOTE, and DICTIONARY. I’ve accidentally looked up whole sentences in the dictionary by mistake due to mis-press. Moon+ reader allows export of notes and highlights one book at a time so you can’t export your highlight/notes for all the books you read at once on the ereader. That’s not a deal breaker for me since it makes sense for me to e-mail the highlights/notes after finishing a book rather than months after finishing the book. To send it, go into the book, double press in the center to bring up the notes/bookmarks options, go in to the bookmarks section, then press SHARE. Under share it brings up many options but I stuck with the one that involved emailing it via gmail.
It was formatted like this in the e-mail. It shows the title of the book, author, number of highlights, number of notes, the highlights in CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER. Each highlight is preceded by a square which I appreciate. Considering that the book is 300 pages long, I think 199 highlights + 3 notes seem reasonable. It doesn’t even include dictionary look-ups and as I’ve said I usually don’t highlight stuff that the dictionary elucidated. I think he difficulty level of this book is pretty similar to 엘리베이터에 낀 사람 by 김영하 which is also a collection of short stories by the same author. The number sounds right to me. For the elevator book, I only added stuff to anki for some of the short stories because I had the physical book and I only wanted looked up words for the short stories that I had found an electrical copy for since manually typing stuff is too labor intensive. Google works wonders 🙂 I could’ve taken pictures while reading and then run them through google keep for OCR then generate cards but I didn’t know about google keep’s capabilities back then. It’s a shame because there were even a couple paragraphs in the later stories that made me go wtf did I read? I literally took my red pen and drew an arc next to the paragraphs. I love learning from sentences/paragraphs that I don’t understand by asking on chiebukuro and other places.
무슨 일이 일어났는지는 아무도 – 김영하 (Highlight: 199; Note: 3)
◆ 무슨 일이 일어났는지는 아무도
▪ SENTENCE I HIGHLIGHTED
▪ SENTENCE I HIGHLIGHTED
I wrote this because I like reading stuff on an ereader and NOT on a smartphone or a tablet or a computer screen due to the eye strain those devices cause. Although, I’m sure there are many great options for looking up words while reading Korean on the tablet/smartphone/computer screen.
My initial goal of getting a korean-english/korean-japanese/etc dictionary on the kindle working ended in futility since I didn’t succeed. However I got my answer of “no you can’t use a Korean-English dictionary kindle.” Just in case you’re curious, the English-Korean dictionary works perfectly on the kindle but I don’t need that! From this experience I learned how to convert dictionary files to STARDICT format (which enables me to use them for wordquery anki plugin and so now I have 5 dictionaries that I run through the wordquery plugin on anki for my Korean cards), I know how to convert tab delimited files to the kindle format though it’s pointless for Korean, and I found my holy grail Korean font as you can tell from the screenshot. This was tricky because I like reading Korean with hangeul and hanja together so the hanja can’t look hideous. Unfortunately I had to eliminate some fonts that were gorgeous in their hangeul letters but hideous in their kanji/hanja forms. There were some korean fonts that only had hangeul and no hanja so the hanja just became squares or blanks which shocked me. Also, I thought the hanja looked gorgeous on the UnGungseo font but for some reason the letters are spaced way too far apart so I can’t tell where the spaces between the words are since it looks like there’s a space between every syllable block. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a Korean font where the hanja looks gorgeous the way it does on ungunseo so I settled on 서울 font and 한겨레. I have a distinct disdain for straight Korean fonts which make me that much less motivated to read Korean and increase my anxiety. I must say that using a font I love in the ereader makes me that much more excited to read Korean but I’m sure the novelty will wear off .
I aptly titled this the best way to korean on an ereader since it’s the only way as far I know for us korean learners that do not live in korea. I’ve heard of this korean ereader crema that is overpriced, is slow/laggy, and only has korean-korean dictionary WHICH just doesn’t appeal to me since the android e-reader is much better.
Also, I unfortunately bought physical Korean books a year or two ago. I finished one or two of them and for one of them I kept writing in the kanji in the margins of the book because I hated and resented being forced to spend unnecessary energy to figure out the meaning of the words because they only write in hangeul (Sometimes I could clearly tell it’s hanja but I had no idea which one it is despite the context so I felt even more resentful). I can only imagine how much more fruitless and hopeless it would feel if I was illiterate in Japanese and knew nothing about hanja…. I think I’ll try to go back and finish reading them all after I read all my ebooks (about 30 or so). I’m sure it’ll be a breeze by that point.
EDIT: I don’t think it’s unfortunate that I bought physical korean books at all! I discovered the mass tagger feature for morphman so what I do is read the physical book in korean and underline words using a red pen and copy the words into a notebook with a black or blue pen right before I flip the page over. It’s not a massive undertaking because I underline anywhere from 0-6 words per page. Then I type up the words and tag the anki cards with the word using morphman and move the cards into their own priority deck. from there I curate anki cards during anki reviews using the mark feature because korean has homonyms and some anki cards based on certain dictionaries are better (ie presence of example sentences, english, japanese, korean etc) and I am all about the cloze format. I didn’t make anki cards out of the 900,000+ entry korean-korean dictionary or the other korean-korean dictionary because I hate wasting time reading korean I don’t understand. Then I convert the curated cards into cloze cards by changing card type in anki (i generated clozes in advance using excel). I don’t worry about the words that anki didn’t tag because it wasn’t among the 400,000+? 600,000+? dictionary anki cards and I don’t have time or energy to chase after every word. I am aware of the endless number of korean words that are not in the dictionary including the korean-korean dictionary. Luckily I’m at a level where 95-99% of the time, the word I underline in the book is not critical to understanding the story or be significant enough to sway my enjoyment/rating of the book/story so I feel pretty content.
I think this is a great way to learn korean while reading while not wasting time. I think looking up a word ONCE while reading is a waste of time (when the action is only looking UP THE WORD and nothing else. if it’s look up the word and make an anki card or save the link or text to make an anki card for the future i may have a different opinion. I’m all about efficiency at this point) for the most part because there’s a 90% chance I won’t remember the word or the definition. THIS HAPPENs with english too ie when you read a book full of purple prose on the kindle even if you click on every damn word you don’t know, you will probably not remember at least 90% of it unless it repeats in the books at least 20 times…. There are some random words that I have an affinity and I remember for a long time despite looking it up just once or twice but i would say the majority of the look-ups feel extremely arbitrary!! I find it more meaningful to see the word in anki multiple times over a long period of time instead of looking it up once or over and over again manually when i come across it.
Here are the dictionary files I used for goldendict + moon reader for anyone with android! I got 2 from lingoes (they had to be converted and that’s the edocu and the vicom one), and 3 from stardict. I edited 2 of them with stardict editor because there were no line breaks which makes reading the entries unnecessarily difficult.
to break it down
vicom is korean-english (from lingoes)
edocu is korean-english ( from lingoes)
quick-eng-kor is korean-english
naver is korean-japanese
koreandic is korean-korean
ALSO! here is the link for all the stardict dictionaries that you can use on the FASTWORD QUERY OR wordquery plugin.
There are 4 dictionaries in the korean-english dictionary folder. The other dictionaries are korean-korean, korean-japanese from naver, and hanja (all it does is insert all the homonyms). This brings the grand total to 7! I had to edit some of them with stardict editor because there were NO LINE BREAKS which makes the entries hard to read. The one titled github was converted from the tsv file on this github page
I like the quick korean-english dictionary because it’s so BRIEF and short. Of course my favorite is naver korean-japanese. If I’m desperate or I feel like it (if it’s the only field that’s filled from running query) I check out the korean-korean definition since reading Korean is labor intensive and fruitless at times (when you read it, or even re-read it and don’t understand what you read). There are 2 English dictionaries that generate a lot of text since they’re FULL of example sentences. They might be identical but I’m not sure so I just kept both.
Here’s another reddit link where someone mentioned using koreader on a kobo ereader to read korean.