I’ve always been confused which is which. When I was self studying, I often skipped on lessons about directions because I just can’t remember it. When I started formal lessons in our university, I had no choice but to study and to try my best to remember it.
My first 선생님 has to learn basic Filipino when she was here in the Philippines. The Filipino for left and right is kaliwa and kanan respectively. She said her clues are the number of syllables, and they are the opposites. ka-li-wa (3 syllables) for 왼-쯕 (2 syllables) and ka-nan (2 syllables) for 오-른-쪽 (3 syllables). I thought it was a good idea, but I ended up being more confused. I can’t remember whether the pairing was based on the same number of syllables… or the opposite?
I read it somewhere in the internet that someone used the number of letters. Left has 4 letters, right has 5 – thus longer. 오른쪽 is longer than 왼쪽. I thought I wouldn’t be confused anymore. No need to remember whether it’s the opposite or similar association. Longer number of letters, the longer Korean counterpart. Yes, I wasn’t confused anymore. But it takes time for me to choose. Even if right has more letters, left and right are both monosyllabic. So, especially when speaking, I still have to pause and… yeah, count letters. Not working!
Me and some schoolmates were in a car. We just sent off our Korean friends. From the airport, the one who’s driving asked whether the gas station is on 왼쪽 or 오른쪽 (we all know Korean, thus we code-switch Korean, English and Filipino). The one who’s supposed to answer his query paused a bit because she is trying to remember either the location of the gas station or what is the correct Korean term to use. The one who’s driving must have thought it was the later, so he said. “오른쪽 – right – because there’s an R” (referring to the [r] sound of ㄹ).
As if a bulb suddenly lights up in my brain! WHY hasn’t I thought of that before?! It worked like magic for me. Since then I wasn’t confused anymore and I don’t need to pause anymore when speaking.
Did you guys also have a hard time remember which is which?