[Heart to Heart] An American Linguist Who Teachers Korean | Linguist and Writer Robert Fouser

[Heart to Heart] An American Linguist Who Teachers Korean | Linguist and Writer Robert Fouser



Robert Fowler is an American linguist who is deeply into Korean culture he started learning about Korea by studying the Korean language at Seoul National University in the early 1980s since then he has steadily written about Korean culture in 2016 he garnered attention from Korean readers as he published the books conditions for citizenship in the future a manual of democracy for Koreans and such on holic both of which he wrote in Korean recently he returned with a new book written in Korean the book titled the spread of foreign languages so I understand the book has written in Korean the book is written in Korean I wrote it in Korean yeah it's a history of foreign languages the learning of foreign languages on today's heart-to-heart we will hear from Robert Fowler who is passionate about Korean culture today's guest is a writer linguist and published author who has a very unique affection for Korea joining me today the studio is Robert Hauser welcome to heart to heart thank you it's great to be here great to have for coming I would like to first of all ask you your purpose the purpose of your visit to Korea because I understand you live in America right you come to Korea occasionally for work so is this visit work-related as well well not really work but I have a new book that came out so I'm here to promote the book and meet people and also I have a photography exhibition on in Incheon so I decided to have the exhibition while I was here visiting because of the book well so you've got a TV on the board yeah it's a pleasure mm-hm tell us about the exhibition as well as the book could you first of all tell about the exhibition well the exhibition is a small exhibition of photographs that I took in Koh namdong an old area of Seoul and that area was being demolished for redevelopment so the photographs are two years of the process of demolition mm-hmm kind of documentary photographs and they're on display in Cosmo 40 mm hmm in Incheon which is an old factory that was turned into a cultural special I love that so you know it that because of the space it makes the photographs look better at yes yes yeah so I'm thrilled about that exhibition now let's get to your book the big book yeah it's titled discovering cities with Robert Hauser hmm so I understand the book has written in Korean the book is written in Korea and I wrote it in Korea and then was proof read and checked by the publisher so but yeah it's not a translation I didn't write it in English first I wrote it in Korean first and this is not your first book it's not like this is your fourth book that you wrote in Korean yes my four they're starting to add up I know yeah so could you maybe tell us about the summary could you tell us a summary of this of this book well the book is about 14 cities that I've either lived in or visited often and so it starts from my hometown and Arbor Michigan where I was born and then goes all the way up to Providence Rhode Island where I lived now and then of course Seoul is a big part of the book and other places that I've lived and visited the point of the book is over a lifetime how does one person develop a way of looking at cities so it's my personal way of looking at cities but in that process I also discuss a lot of problems that cities have or other urban issues that may have appeared in the news and things like that you made me have written about the cities that you've been to been to time in and that's obviously a good start because that's what I'm familiar with and I can write it from a personal point of view at some point in my life I want to write a book about cities that I don't know much about you know get off the airplane and discover anything right yeah so would you say that maybe that is an aspect that kind of sets this book apart from other books in similar genres I think so and also because I expose a lot of myself as I write about myself as a person and how I'm changing and feeling so it's linking the person with the city and I think that's kind of a unique approach okay what true to the subject of this relationship between you know us or between our cities I mean where's their particular I don't know something that inspired you well nothing in particular but it had been thinking about cities for a very long time because in the early 2010's I was involved in honk preservation actually I was on Arirang TV in 2011 because of so I was involved in Hana preservation and that got me interested in other urban issues and of course the related things so I've been thinking about it a long time but I think one thing that kind of got me to focus on writing the book from that perspective is after I left Korea in 2014 I went back to Ann Arbor Michigan which is my hometown mm-hmm and the hometown had changed and I had changed so the memories that I had were completely different and I got to think about how as we change our view of cities changes and the cities change but we're changing too so it's a double change it's not just the city's changing right but we're changing too so that was a really fascinating feeling and so I started the book from that so what made you travel well I get it Seoul is obviously one of the cities in the book and tae-jong I also lived there for a year and a half so I've lived in a very various different places it's not a lot of travel for traveling but just the way my life unfolded I ended up living in these various different places could you maybe tell us about some of the cities how you know each city interested you sure they're you know they each have their own reason they have their own reasons yes Tokyo I was interested in because Tokyo when I was in high school I did a homestay in Japan uh-huh and and soul of course was similar but not quite as overpowering because I was a college student when I first came to Seoul but what connected me with Seoul was the people and the energy of the place and that of course is still here the busyness of Seoul and the energy and this sort of thing that if you need something done in a hurry you can get you know that sort of energy right anchoring things can happen tomorrow you know and you ask a question Oh when Aquino when can you do it when you can it be finished or something it's like well bring it in the morning it'll be done in the afternoon or something like that so that energy to Seoul that attracted me okay then of the many cities of the many places that JA you've mentioned in your book if there may be a particular place that Chu is closest to your heart two places I know this is a you know dodging the question I should probably run for president but anyway this is you know that the two places Seoul is very close to my heart because I'm still I'm here we're in Seoul right now so Seoul has many memories because I first came to Seoul in 1982 for a short visit and then I lived here in 1983 to 1984 and there are all these memories and actually yesterday or a couple days ago I remember I told somebody oh I'll meet you at the West Station of Seoul's Seoul station so boyoung which of course nobody says anymore so I have this history in Seoul so it's it's almost it's really become my hometown or a second hometown the other one is Kyoto and that's because I my mother visited Kyoto and I lived there for three months for during four consecutive years and I would guide her and show her around so I got to know Kyoto with my mother and that would happen shortly before she passed away so I have very strong memories of that quality time that nice time in Kyoto that I spent with my mother so it's very emotional for that reason so over so many years you've mentioned you know place has changed we change we and Korea has changed quite a bit as well what are some of the biggest changes that you have seen well probably the biggest change is in 1983 or the early 80s was a developing country by all standards and you know it was it was before the Olympics and there the president was not chosen by votes so Korea was not a democracy it was a developing country the big that I think the two biggest changes are democracy and the just the rise of the standard of living so though it's Korea's now a developed Democratic Society yes like North America or Europe and Japan and that's those two things are the biggest changes yes yes in a sense that's also leaving I guess you're leaving your normal right and you're trying to escape from that place to another finding a place that you can actually relax and find a peace of mind so it could actually be anywhere you don't necessarily have to travel too far away could be anywhere yes but if you're right it's leaving your normal routine yes so you have written many books in Karina and I was actually very impressed by how descriptive and you were and how insightful your writing was how is your Karine so good well I don't know if it's so good because it's always a struggle right I mean it's the second language but what I do when I write is I concentrate on the contents first because it's a second language for me so I'm my first worry is is my set are my sentence is clear do people understand me not are they beautiful sentences or did I use a fancy word or are people going to you know judge me by the way I write the first thing is does it make sense and I just focus on that and that I think actually helps because it makes my writing clear so in a weird way Korean is more difficult for me because it's a second language sure but there's a kind of freedom like I don't feel like I'm being judged so ok make mistakes because that you know they're gonna be edited out so I focus on what do I want to say and making it clear right as long as you get the message get the message across right so I think that makes me focus on what I really want to say or what I really want to you know convey to the readers but I have seen the interviews you've done in Korean I mean you seem to have no trouble conversing in in Korean I was really amazed but of course you studied in Japan right so I'm sure you learned Japanese I learned Japanese and then you studied Korean right so was that helpful it was extremely helpful yes knowing Japanese that color that was my secret I know my secret piece in front of the whole world it was I mean because the grammar is similar the word order is similar and of course all the vocabulary similar very similar vocabulary from Chinese characters so and the sense like respecting older people or seniors and different like speech levels in linguistics we call them speech levels this reminds me of when I was in high school I took Spanish Oh all my other friends took French right but I took Spanish and I was so glad I did takes yeah it was so much easier if you knew English yeah great all the common vocabulary yeah sorry I guess it's very similar I feel similar he's a t easier to learn Korean and vice versa yes yeah when did you gain this you know this interest in foreign languages when I first went to Japan as an exchange student and it I never knew that I was interested in languages but I was interested in sound because I liked music and you know I would yeah so I liked sound and then I went to Japan and I found that I was picking up the vocabulary very quickly mm-hmm just not even asking what it is you know the family the host family would be talking and I would sort of start I got to the point where I could sort of figure out what they were talking know that visit to Japan as an exchange student in high school kind of like sparked that part of me that I hadn't it doesn't happen to everyone but I don't saying and you know I mean there are lots of things talents that you know I don't have but language may be one of them right now you have a mistress self in foreign languages for 30-some years more years and last year you published the book titled this spread of foreign languages big will go to me padam Jen pat-down yes what message did you hope to convey well that book is a little bit more a little bit more um what academic and descent has been the book I that the new book that's just come out it's a history of foreign languages the learning of foreign languages starting mostly with the Renaissance and the reason that starts with the Renaissance or is because until the Renaissance not just in Europe but other places people learned say Latin or classical Chinese or Sanskrit or classical Arabic they learn these languages because of religious religion philosophy these kind of things so the idea of a spoken language really only dates back to the Renaissance there's only about 500 years and then so I followed that how did we start to learn spoken language and then of course all the difficulties that that involves right which I'm sure everybody who's watching this program knows pronunciation grammar how do you teach a language to make it interesting how do you make it you know not boring right we haven't solved those problems yet so that's why yes when I learn a language what's really important to me you know and a lot of linguists will say oh study you know listening is should be you need to listen first and all that I I mean I agree with that but for me it's using the language and having somebody understand so years ago when I went to Beijing mm-hmm they're my the window of my hotel room didn't close so I called the front desk and they sent up a technician to you know make the window repair you know pull in the window so that it closed and I said to the gentleman in Chinese I said sure and he responded you know I think my pronunciations probably terrible but I was so so I did it you know I just said thank you because he took the time to come to my room and I the response I was thrilled that what I had said was understood that that thrill is very important huh very much

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