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시민권특집 - 4 미이민국에 보내는 공문
편집장  2019-07-21 00:04:29, 조회 : 33,155, 추천 : 247
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본지는 오늘자로 미이민국 앞으로 아래의 내용을 이메일로 발송하였습니다.

때마침 이민국에서는 시민권 시험을 개편한다는 발표가 나왔습니다. 영문버전부터 변화가 올 것이라고 예상됩니다. 새로운 시민권 시험은 기존의 시험문제보다 난이도가 높아지는 것이 아닐까 우려됩니다. 이 부분은 또 다른 차원에서 논의되어야 하겠지만 적어도 문제가 많은 한국어 버전은 이번 기회에 정상화시킬 수 있는 좋은 기회가 아닐까 싶습니다. 본지의 편지가 당국자들에게 선한 영향을 줄 수 있기를 기원합니다.


The Civics question #51

★ What are the two rights of everyone living in the United States?

    ▪ freedom of expression                
    ▪ freedom of speech                
    ▪ freedom of assembly                 
    ▪ freedom to petition the government                
    ▪ freedom of religion                
    ▪ the right to bear arms

This document is designed to exercise the freedom listed in a civics question offered by USCIS. “We the People” petition to USCIS to revise the errors of the official Korean version in the Naturalization Test.

For the benefit of the US government and citizens.
God Bless America. Aum.  


I reviewed carefully the official Korean version of the civics questions posted on the USCIS website. And I found a considerable number of awkward & ungrammatical expressions and misleading translations. I concluded that the “Korean” version of the civics test is inappropriate.  

A government’s inappropriate official document may damage the credit and dignity of the agency. The current “Korean” version of the citizenship test can be seen as a disgrace for USCIS and a disrespect for Korean users.    

While most Korean applicants use this Korean version as subsidiary material for test preparation, for Korean applicants over 65, it is the formal test kit in the real test. In this regard, it is a fundamental duty for USCIS to provide proper test material.  

I am filing a petition that the official Korean version of the civics questions in the naturalization test be critically reviewed and positively revised. To make it easier and faster, I arranged this document for USCIS. It took time, but it was worthwhile. I will be happy if it helps the agency as well as the Korean users applying for US citizenship in the future. Thank you.

by Jong Kweon Yi

- US Citizen.
- Editor, writer, translator & Entrepreneur  
- Publisher & Editor in chief, The Korean Buddhist News, USA
- Member, New York Press Club
- Member, Overseas Korean Journalist Association  
- Member, Palisades Park Voters’ Association in New Jersey
- Official translator of The Book of Founding Fathers by Vincent Wilson Jr.
- Graduate of the University of Kansas (MA in American studies)  
- Former Lecturer of Korean language at the University of Kansas  



Categories of Problems in the Official Korean Version
of the Civics questions in the Naturalization Test

It is grateful that USCIS prepared the Korean version of the citizenship test for Korean users. However, several patterns of errors are found recurring throughout the document, and I categorized them as follows.

1. awkward and ungrammatical
2. too colloquial
3. imperative or lowered speech
4. misinterpretation and wrong answer
5. typo
6. incorrect information
7. inappropriate terminologies

Awkward and ungrammatical
Korean version should be presented in Korean that Koreans use. However, a considerable part of the text looks ‘translated’ and not natural. This causes difficulty in understanding, giving a sense of strangeness to the audience. To deliver the accurate meaning of the original, I changed them into grammatical and natural Korean as best as I can.

Too colloquial words
Being too colloquial, especially in an official governmental document, gives a sense that it was produced by an uneducated person. No good for the image of USCIS. I revised them into standard styles to meet the dignity and honor of the US government.

Imperative and lowered speech.
The United States of America is a democratic nation with full of respect to its people while the government doesn’t look like that as far as the Korean version is concerned. The questions sound like forcing the applicants to answer as if they were not in an equal position. The Korean language has different levels of speech revealing the relationship in a conversation, and we can fix the problem with just little touch of the text. It will make USCIS look more kind and honorable at no cost.

Misinterpretation and wrong answer.
Worse than awkward style is a misinterpretation, which distorts the meaning of the original and delivered the wrong thing. The worst case is Civics question #57. “the Selective Service” is translated as “의무병역,” and the literal translation of “의무병역” into English is “Compulsory military service.” Worse than the worst is the wrong answer offered in the original English version, and consequently in the Korean version, too. Although the website of Selective Service System, the government agency in charge of the Selective Service indicate that the age for registration is between 18 and 25, the USCIS test tells that it is between 18 and 26. Seriously misleading case.

Typos are a human error, but not checking them is the government’s fault. There are several typos in the 100 questions, and it is quite disappointing because one of them is the “Declaration of Independence.”

Professional Terminologies
The civics test is about American politics and history on the level that average American citizens are expected to have attained. Translation needs more than linguistic skills, especially when it is about the professional area. For example, US President as “command in chief of the military (#35)” should not sound as if US President is a ‘five-star general’ although he/she commands the control of the military. This is what the Founding Fathers agreed. No. 35 fails to deliver the accurate meaning of “command in chief of the military” when it was translated as “총사령관” in the Korean version. In Korean, that word indicates the position of Douglas McArther in the Korean War or Eisenhower in WWII. There is one and only accurate Korean term meaning President as “commander in chief,” which is “군통수권자.” Other than this, there are plenty of terminology issues to be checked and corrected.

Important proper nouns related to American history, such as The Declaration of Independence or The Federalist Papers, were not sufficiently researched before they are turned into Korean. You should have checked how Korean scholars on American history translated those words into Korean before you offer an official version.

The civics test is more than just a test; it is also an education to the US citizen-candidates to help them understand America to be better citizens of this country. Granted, I urge USCIS to take this petition seriously to produce a better version meeting its own goal.


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