PHD Linguistics, Culture & Language, Korean

I was born and raised in South Korea and came to the US in 2010. I am now in my senior year of a bachelor degree program in English Language and Literature. My goal is to join a challenging but supportive program that will enable me to conduct research relating to  the effects of culture on language and to  become an expert translator of Korean into English and vice versa and also, ultimately, to provide linguistics and translation training to undergraduate and graduate students.

Korean and English languages come from totally different roots and so have fascinating contrasts but surprisingly many similarities and this interested me in the concepts that are common to all languages and I want to explore this in a formal structured program. During my studies, I have also come to appreciate that translators are often able to offer only an approximation of the meaning actually intended, also that sometimes a lack of understanding of idiom and cultural outlooks can lead to sometimes humorous but also potentially dangerous mistranslations and misunderstandings. Obviously an approximation is sufficient for many purposes but there are many situations in which a highly faithful transmission of an author’s intended meaning is an absolute necessity.  I am thinking of such things as manuals for medical equipment or pharmaceutical usage as well as artistic applications such as translations of poetry or dramatic works where inaccuracy arising from a lack of appreciation of cultural context, can result in corruption of the author’s purpose or message.

 I have undertaken volunteer work at an orphanage in South Korea and this experience first fired an interest in the power and uses of language. The very young are learning to use the tools that language provides to communicate feelings and wants and quickly become adept and I have contrasted this with the problems of the old who may be losing their facility with language and applying supplementary or compensatory communication in the form of non-verbal signals of their needs and wants. This latter problem will be of increasing interest as the aging of populations accelerate.

 I know that linguistics has many applications beyond those that I have specified, such as psychological, social and marking and measuring changes in language and the reasons for such changes. The power of language for good and ill is almost limitless and this is what really interests me, I wish to assist in applying the power of words for the good of humanity.  All the different facets of the subject fascinate me and I am certain that my passion will flourish in the Ph.D. program to which I undertake to apply myself fully and enthusiastically.

 I believe that my academic results will provide an assurance as to my ability to profit from the program and undertake useful research in this subject.

 Thank you for considering my application.

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