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Ph.D. in Linguistics, Culture & Language, Korean

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

Korean and English languages come from totally different roots and have fascinating contrasts, but surprisingly many similarities interested me in the concepts common to all languages. I want to explore this in a formal structured program. During my studies, I have also come to appreciate that translators often can offer only an approximation of the meaning and also intended that sometimes a lack of understanding of idiom and cultural outlooks can lead to occasionally humorous but also potentially dangerous mistranslations and misunderstandings. An approximation is sufficient for many purposes, but there are many situations in which a highly reliable transmission of an author’s intended meaning is necessary.  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 use of language. The very young are learning to use language tools to communicate feelings and wants and quickly become adept. 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 I have specified, such as psychological, social, and marking and measuring changes in language and the reasons for such changes. The power of speech for good and ill is almost limitless, and this 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 sure that my passion will flourish in the Ph.D. program to which I undertake to apply myself fully and enthusiastically.

 I believe my academic results will assure my ability to profit from the program and undertake helpful research on this subject.

 Thank you for considering my application.

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