Korean language


Korean language
Korean
한국어, 조선말
Hangugeo, Chosŏnmal
Hangugeo-Chosonmal.png
Hangugeo, Chosŏnmal (Korean) written in Hangul, Chosŏn'gŭl
Spoken in South Korea, North Korea, People's Republic of China, Japan
Native speakers 66 million  (1986)[1]
Language family
Debated (see the classification)
Writing system Exclusive use of hangul (both Koreas) or mix of hangul and hanja (some professional use in South Korea); occasionally Cyrillic in Goryeomal
Official status
Official language in  North Korea
 South Korea
China Yanbian, People's Republic of China
Regulated by

South Korea:
The National Institute of the Korean Language
국립국어원/ 國立國語院

North Korea:
Sahoe Kwahagwon Ŏhak Yŏnguso
The Language Research Institute of Social Science
사회과학원 어학연구소
Language codes
ISO 639-1 ko
ISO 639-2 kor
ISO 639-3 kor
Linguasphere 45-AAA-a
Map of Korean language.png
Countries with native Korean-speaking populations

Korean (한국어/조선말, see below) is the official language of the country Korea, in both South and North. It is also one of the two official languages in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in People's Republic of China. There are about 78 million Korean speakers worldwide. In the 15th century, a national writing system was commissioned by Sejong the Great, the system being currently called Hangul. Prior to the development of Hangul, Koreans had used Hanja and phonetic systems like Hyangchal, Gugyeol and Idu extensively for over a millennium.

The genealogical classification of the Korean language is debated by a number of historical linguists. Most classify it as a language isolate[2] while a few consider it to be in the Altaic language family.[3] The Korean language is agglutinative in its morphology and SOV in its syntax.

Contents

Names

The Korean names for the language are based on the names for Korea used in North and South Korea.

In South Korea, the language is most often called Hangugmal (한국말; 韓國말), or more formally, Hangugeo (한국어; 韓國語) or Gugeo (국어; 國語; literally "national language").

In North Korea and Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in China, the language is most often called Chosŏnmal (조선말; 朝鮮말), or more formally, Chosŏnŏ (조선어; 朝鮮語).

On the other hand, Korean people in the former USSR, who refer to themselves as Koryo-saram (고려사람; also Goryeoin [고려인; 高麗人; literally, "Goryeo person(s)"]) call the language Goryeomal (고려말; 高麗말).

In mainland China, following the establishment of diplomatic relations with South Korea in 1992, the term Cháoxiǎnyǔ (朝鲜语 or the short form: Cháoyǔ (朝语)) has normally been used to refer to the standard language of North Korea and Yanbian, while Hánguóyǔ (韩国语 or the short form: Hányǔ (韩语)) is used to refer to the standard language of South Korea.

Some older English sources also used the name "Korean" to refer to the language, country, and people. The word "Korean" is derived from Goryeo, which is thought to be the first dynasty known to western countries.

Classification

Since the publication of the article of Ramstedt in 1928, some linguists[4] support the hypothesis that Korean can be classified as an Altaic language or as a relative of proto-Altaic. Korean is similar to the Altaic languages in that they both lack certain grammatical elements, including articles, fusional morphology and relative pronouns. However, linguists agree today on the fact that typological resemblances cannot be used to prove genetic relatedness of languages[5] as these features are typologically connected and easily borrowed.[6] Such factors of typological divergence as Middle Mongolian's exhibition of gender agreement[7] can be used to argue that a genetic relationship is unlikely.[8]

The hypothesis that Korean might be related to Japanese has had some supporters due to some apparent overlap in vocabulary and similar grammatical features that have been elaborated upon by such researchers as Samuel E. Martin[9] and Roy Andrew Miller.[10] Sergei Starostin (1991) found about 25% of potential cognates in the Japanese-Korean 100-word Swadesh list, which—if valid—would place these two languages closer together than other possible members of the Altaic family.[11]

Other linguists, most notably Alexander Vovin, argue, however, that the similarities are not due to any genetic relationship, but rather to a sprachbund effect and heavy borrowing especially from ancient Korean into Western Old Japanese.[12] A good example might be Middle Korean sàm and Japanese asa ‘hemp’.[13] This word seems to be cognate, but while it is well-attested in Western Old Japanese and Northern Ryūkyū, in Eastern Old Japanese it only occurs in compounds, and it is only present in three subdialects of the South-Ryūkyūan dialect group. Then, the doublet wo ‘hemp’ is attested in Western Old Japanese and Southern Ryūkyū. It is thus plausible to assume a borrowed term.[14] See East Asian languages for morphological features shared among languages of the East Asian sprachbund, and Classification of Japonic for further details on the discussion of a possible relationship.

History

Korean is descended from Proto-Korean, Old Korean, Middle Korean and Modern Korean. Controversy remains over the proposed Altaic language family and its inclusion of Proto-Korean. Since the Korean War, contemporary North-South differences in Korean have developed, including variance in pronunciation, verb inflection, and vocabulary.

Geographic distribution

Korean is spoken by the Korean people in North Korea and South Korea and by the Korean diaspora in many countries including the People's Republic of China, Japan, and the United States. Korean-speaking minorities exist in these states, but because of cultural assimilation into host countries, not all ethnic Koreans may speak it with native fluency.

Official status

Korean is the official language of South Korea and North Korea. It is also one of the two official languages of the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in China.

In South Korea, the regulatory body for Korean is the Seoul-based National Institute of the Korean Language (국립국어원), which was created by presidential decree on January 23, 1991. In North Korea, the regulatory body is the Language Institute of the Academy of Social Sciences (사회과학원 어학연구소, Sahoe Kwahagwon Ŏhak Yŏnguso).

Dialects

Dialects of Korean

Korean has several dialects (called mal () [literally "speech"], saturi (사투리), or bang-eon (방언) in Korean). The standard language (pyojuneo or pyojunmal) of South Korea is based on the dialect of the area around Seoul, and the standard for North Korea is based on the dialect spoken around P'yŏngyang. All dialects of Korean are similar to each other and mutually intelligible, with the possible exception of the dialect of Jeju Island (see Jeju dialect). The dialect spoken in Jeju is classified as a different language by some Korean linguists.[who?] One of the most notable differences between dialects is the use of stress: speakers of Seoul dialect use very little stress, and standard South Korean has a very flat intonation; on the other hand, speakers of the Gyeongsang dialect have a very pronounced intonation.

It is also worth noting that there is substantial evidence for a history of extensive dialect levelling, or even convergent evolution or intermixture of two or more originally distinct linguistic stocks, within the Korean language and its dialects. Many Korean dialects have basic vocabulary that is etymologically distinct from vocabulary of identical meaning in Standard Korean or other dialects, such as South Jeolla dialect /kur/ vs. Standard Korean /ip/ "mouth" or Gyeongsang dialect /t͡ɕʌŋ.ɡu.d͡ʑi/ vs. Standard Korean /puːt͡ɕʰu/ "garlic chives". This suggests that the Korean Peninsula may have at one time been much more linguistically diverse than it is at present. See also the Buyeo languages hypothesis.

There is a very close connection between the dialects of Korean and the regions of Korea, since the boundaries of both are largely determined by mountains and seas. Here is a list of traditional dialect names and locations:

Standard dialect Where used
Seoul Seoul (서울), Incheon (인천/仁川), most of Gyeonggi (경기/京畿)
P'yŏngan (평양

/平壤)

P'yŏngyang, P'yŏngan region, Chagang (North Korea)
Regional dialect Where used
Gyeonggi limited areas of the Gyeonggi region (South Korea)
Chungcheong Daejeon, Chungcheong region (South Korea)
Gangwon Gangwon-do (South Korea)/Kangwŏn (North Korea)
Gyeongsang Busan, Daegu, Ulsan, Gyeongsang region (South Korea)
Hamgyŏng Rasŏn, Hamgyŏng region, Ryanggang (North Korea)
Hwanghae Hwanghae region (North Korea)
Jeju Jeju Island/Province (South Korea)
Jeolla Gwangju, Jeolla region (South Korea)

Sounds

Consonants

The Korean consonants
Bilabial Alveolar Post-
alveolar
Velar Glottal
Nasal /m/ /n/ /ŋ/ (syllable-final)
Plosive
and
Affricate
plain /b/ or /p/ /d/ or /t/ /t͡ɕ/ /ɡ/ or /k/
tense /p͈/ /t͈/ /t͡ɕ͈/ /k͈/
aspirated /pʰ/ /tʰ/ /t͡ɕʰ/ /kʰ/
Fricative plain /s/ /h/
tense /s͈/
Liquid /l/

The IPA symbol ⟨◌͈⟩ (a subscript double straight quotation mark, shown here with a placeholder circle) is used to denote the tensed consonants /p͈/, /t͈/, /k͈/, /t͡ɕ͈/, /s͈/. Its official use in the Extensions to the IPA is for 'strong' articulation, but is used in the literature for faucalized voice. The Korean consonants also have elements of stiff voice, but it is not yet known how typical this is of faucalized consonants. They are produced with a partially constricted glottis and additional subglottal pressure in addition to tense vocal tract walls, laryngeal lowering, or other expansion of the larynx.

Vowels

The short vowel phonemes of Korean. The long vowel phonemes of Korean.
The Korean basic vowels
Monophthongs /i/ , /e/ , /ɛ/ , /a/ *, /o/ , /u/ , /ʌ/ , /ɯ/ , /ø/
Vowels preceded by intermediaries,
or Diphthongs
/je/ , /jɛ/ , /ja/ , /wi/ , /we/ , /wɛ/ , /wa/ , /ɰi/ , /jo/ , /ju/ , /jʌ/ , /wʌ/

^* ㅏ is closer to a Near-open central vowel ([ɐ]), though ⟨a⟩ is still used for tradition.

Allophones

/s/ becomes an alveolo-palatal [ɕ] before [j] or [i] for most speakers (but see North–South differences in the Korean language). This occurs with the tense fricative and all the affricates as well. At the end of a syllable, /s/ changes to /t/ (Example: beoseot (버섯) 'mushroom').

/h/ may become a bilabial [ɸ] before [o] or [u], a palatal [ç] before [j] or [i], a velar [x] before [ɯ], a voiced [ɦ] between voiced sounds, and a [h] elsewhere.[citation needed]

/p, t, t͡ɕ, k/ become voiced [b, d, d͡ʑ, ɡ] between voiced sounds.

/l/ becomes alveolar flap [ɾ] between vowels, and [l] or [ɭ] at the end of a syllable or next to another /l/. Note that a written syllable-final 'ㄹ', when followed by a vowel or a glide (i.e., when the next character starts with 'ㅇ'), migrates to the next syllable and thus becomes [ɾ].

Traditionally, /l/ was disallowed at the beginning of a word. It disappeared before [j], and otherwise became /n/. However, the inflow of western loanwords changed the trend, and now word-initial /l/ (mostly from English loanwords) are pronounced as a free variation of either [ɾ] or [l]. The traditional prohibition of word-initial /l/ became a morphological rule called "initial law" (두음법칙) in South Korea, which pertains to Sino-Korean vocabulary. Such words retain their word-initial /l/ in North Korea.

All obstruents (plosives, affricates, fricatives) are unreleased [p̚, t̚, k̚] at the end of a word.

Plosive stops /p, t, k/ become nasal stops [m, n, ŋ] before nasal stops.

Hangul spelling does not reflect these assimilatory pronunciation rules, but rather maintains the underlying, partly historical morphology. Given this, it is sometimes hard to tell which actual phonemes are present in a certain word.

One difference between the pronunciation standards of North and South Korea is the treatment of initial [r], and initial [n]. For example,

  • "labor" – north: rodong (로동), south: nodong (노동)
  • "history" – north: ryŏksa (력사), south: yeoksa (역사)
  • "female" – north: nyŏja (녀자), south: yeoja (여자)

Morphophonemics

Grammatical morphemes may change shape depending on the preceding sounds. Examples include -eun/-neun (-은/-는) and -i/-ga (-이/-가). Sometimes sounds may be inserted instead. Examples include -eul/-reul (-을/-를), -euro/-ro (-으로/-로), -eseo/-seo (-에서/-서), -ideunji/-deunji (-이든지/-든지) and -iya/-ya (-이야/-야). However, -euro/-ro is somewhat irregular, since it will behave differently after a rieul consonant.

Korean particles
After a consonant After a rieul After a vowel
-ui (-의)
-eun (-은) -neun (-는)
-i (-이) -ga (-가)
-eul (-을) -reul (-를)
-gwa (-과) -wa (-와)
-euro (-으로) -ro (-로)

Some verbs may also change shape morphophonemically.

Grammar

Sentence structure

Korean is an agglutinative language. Modifiers generally precede the modified words, and in the case of verb modifiers, can be serially appended. The basic form of a Korean sentence is subject–object–verb, but the verb is the only required and immovable element.

A:   가게-에   갔어-요? (가았어요?)
kage-e kasseo-yo
store + [location marker (에)] [go (verb root) (가)]+[past (ㅆ)]+[conjunctive (어)]+ [polite marker (요)]
"Did [you] go to the store?" ("you" implied in conversation)
B:   예.
ye
yes
"Yes."

Parts of speech

The Korean language contains nine parts of speech.[15]

Verb

Korean verbs (동사, tongsa, 動詞) are also known in English as "action verbs" or "dynamic verbs" to distinguish them from [형용사(形容詞), hyeong-yongsa, "adjectives"]), which are also known as "descriptive verbs" or "stative verbs". Examples of action/dynamic verbs include 하다 (hada, "to do") and 가다 (kada, "to go") which constitute an action or movement as opposed to descriptive verbs such as 예쁘다 (yeppeuda, "to be pretty"). For a larger list of Korean verbs, see wikt:Category:Korean verbs.

Unlike most European languages, Korean does not conjugate verbs using agreement with the subject, and nouns have no gender. Instead, verb conjugations depend upon the verb tense, aspect, mood, and the social relation between the speaker, the subject(s), and the listener(s). The system of speech levels and honorifics loosely resembles the T-V distinction of most Indo-European languages. For example, different endings are used depending on the speaker's relation with their subject or audience. Politeness is a critical part of Korean language and Korean culture, therefore, when talking to someone esteemed, the correct verb ending must be chosen to indicate the proper respect.

Adjective

Words categorized as Korean adjectives (형용사, hyeong-yongsa, 形容詞) conjugate similarly to verbs, so some English texts call them "descriptive verbs" or "stative verbs", but they are distinctly separate from 동사 (tongsa).

English does not have an identical grammatical category, so the English translation of Korean adjectives may misleadingly suggest that they are verbs. For example, 붉다 (pukda) translates literally as "to be red" and 아쉽다 (aswipda) often best translates as "to lack" or "to want for", but both are 형용사 (hyeong-yongsa, "adjectives"). For a larger list of Korean adjectives, see wikt:Category:Korean adjectives.

Pre-nouns

Korean pre-nouns (관형사, gwanhyeongsa, 冠形詞) are also known in English as "determinatives", "attributives", and "unconjugated adjectives". Examples include (kak, "each"). For a larger list, see wikt:Category:Korean determiners.

Noun

Core and basic noun words are native to the Korean language, e.g. 나라 (nara, country), (nal, day). A large body of Korean nouns (명사, myeongsa, 名詞) stem from Hanja characters, e.g. (山, san, mountain), (驛, yeok, station), 문화 (文化, munhwa, culture), etc. Many Sino-Korean words have a native Korean equivalent and vice versa, but not always. Nouns do not have grammatical gender and can be made plural by adding 들 to the end of the word, however in most instances the singular form is used even when in English it would be translated as plural. For example, while in English the sentence "there are three apples" would use the plural "apples" instead of the singular "apple", the Korean sentence "사과가 세 개 있습니다." (sagwaga se gae isssumnida) maintains the word 사과 (sagwa, "apple") in its singular form, thus rendered in English as "apple three(things) exist." For a list of Korean nouns, see wikt:Category:Korean nouns.

Pronoun

Korean pronouns (대명사, daemyeongsa, 代名詞) are highly influenced by the honorifics in the language. Pronouns change forms depending on the social status of the person or persons spoken to, e.g. the pronoun for "I" there is both the informal (na) and the honorific/humble (jeo). In general second person singular pronouns are avoided, especially when using honorific forms. For a larger list of Korean pronouns, see wikt:Category:Korean pronouns.

Adverb

Korean adverbs (부사, busa, 副詞) include (tto, "also") and 가득 (gadeuk, "fully"). For a larger list, see wikt:Category:Korean adverbs.

Particle

Korean particles (조사, josa, 助詞) are also known in English as "postpositions". Examples include (neun, topic marker) and (reul, object marker). For a larger list, see wikt:Category:Korean particles.

Interjection

Korean interjections (감탄사, gamtansa, 感歎詞) are also known in English as "exclamations". Examples include 아니 (ani, "no"). For a larger list, see wikt:Category:Korean interjections.

Number

Korean numbers or numerals (수사, susa, 數詞) constitute two regularly used sets: a native Korean set and a Sino-Korean set. The Sino-Korean system is nearly entirely based on the Chinese numerals. The distinction between the two numeral systems is very important. Everything that can be counted will use one of the two systems, but seldom both. The grouping of large numbers in Korean follow the Chinese tradition of myriads (10000) rather than thousands (1000) as is common in Europe and North America.

Speech levels and honorifics

The relationship between a speaker or writer and his or her subject and audience is paramount in Korean, and the grammar reflects this. The relationship between speaker/writer and subject referent is reflected in honorifics, while that between speaker/writer and audience is reflected in speech level.

Honorifics

When talking about someone superior in status, a speaker or writer usually uses special nouns or verb endings to indicate the subject's superiority. Generally, someone is superior in status if he/she is an older relative, a stranger of roughly equal or greater age, or an employer, teacher, customer, or the like. Someone is equal or inferior in status if he/she is a younger stranger, student, employee or the like. Nowadays, there are special endings which can be used on declarative, interrogative, and imperative sentences; and both honorific or normal sentences. They are made for easier and faster use of Korean.

Honorifics in traditional Korea were strictly hierarchical. The caste and estate systems possessed patterns and usages much more complex and stratified than those we have now. The intricate structure of the Korean honorific system flourished in traditional culture and society. Honorifics in contemporary Korea are now used for people who are psychologically distant. Honorifics are also used for people who are superior in status. For example, older relatives, people who are older, teachers, and employers.[16]

Speech levels

There are seven verb paradigms or speech levels in Korean, and each level has its own unique set of verb endings which are used to indicate the level of formality of a situation.[citation needed] Unlike honorifics—which are used to show respect towards the referent (who you are talking about) —speech levels are used to show respect towards a speaker's or writer's audience (who you are talking to). The names of the seven levels are derived from the non-honorific imperative form of the verb 하다 (hada, "do") in each level, plus the suffix 체 ("che", hanja: ), which means "style".

The highest six levels are generally grouped together as jondaenmal (존댓말), while the lowest level (haeche, 해체) is called banmal (반말) in Korean.

Nowadays, younger-generation speakers no longer feel obligated to lower their usual regard toward the referent. It is common to see younger people talk to their older relatives with ban-mal (반말). This is not out of disrespect, but instead it shows the intimacy and the closeness of the relationship between the two speakers. Transformations in social structures and attitudes in today's rapidly changing society have brought about change in the way people speak.[16]

Gender and Korean language

In traditional society, Korean women often place themselves in a position of powerlessness, and this in turn is observed in their everyday speech patterns. Some examples of this can be seen in: (1) a woman’s use of softer tone in order to minimize conflict or aggression; (2) a married woman introducing herself as someone’s mother or wife, not with her own name; (3) the presence of gender differences in titles and occupational terms (for example, a sajang is a company president and yŏsajang is a female company president.); (4) and females sometimes using more tag questions and rising tones in statements, much like the way that young children talk.[17]

In western societies, individuals will avoid expressions of power asymmetry, mutually addressing each other by their first names for the sake of solidarity. Between two people of asymmetrical status in a Korean society, people tend to emphasize differences in status for the sake of solidarity. Koreans prefer to use kinship terms rather than any other terms of reference.[18] In traditional Korean society, women have long been in disadvantaged positions. Korean social structure consists of a royal monarch, a patriarchically dominated family system that emphasizes the maintenance of family lines. This structure has tended to separate roles of women from those of men.[19]

Vocabulary

The core of the Korean vocabulary is made up of native Korean words. A significant proportion of the vocabulary, especially words that denote abstract ideas, are Sino-Korean words,[20] either

in a similar way European languages borrow from Latin and Greek.

The exact proportion of Sino-Korean vocabulary is a matter of debate. Sohn (2001) stated 50–60%.[20] Later, the same author (2006, p. 5) gives an even higher estimate of 65%.[16] However, Jeong Jae-do, one of the compilers of the dictionary Urimal Kun Sajeon, asserts that the proportion is not so high. He points out that Korean dictionaries compiled during the colonial period include many unused Sino-Korean words. In his estimation, the proportion of native Korean vocabulary in the Korean language might be as high as 70%.[21]

Korean has two numeral systems: one native, and one borrowed from Sino-Korean.

To a much lesser extent, some words have also been borrowed from Mongolian, Sanskrit, and other languages. Conversely, the Korean language itself has also contributed some loanwords to other languages, most notably the Tsushima dialect of Japanese.

The vast majority of loanwords other than Sino-Korean come from modern times, 90% of which are from English.[20] Many words have also been borrowed from Japanese via Western languages such as German (areubaiteu "part-time job", allereugi "allergy", gibseu or gibuseu "plaster cast used for broken bones"). Some Western words were borrowed indirectly via Japanese, taking a Japanese sound pattern, for example "dozen" > ダース dāsu > 다스 daseu. Most indirect Western borrowings are now written according to current Hangulization rules for the respective Western language, as if borrowed directly. There are a few more complicated borrowings such as "German(y)" (see names of Germany), the first part of whose endonym [ˈd̥ɔɪ̯t͡ʃʷ.la̠ntʰ] the Japanese approximated using the kanji 獨逸 doitsu that were then accepted into the Korean language by their Sino-Korean pronunciation:  dok +  il = Dogil. In South Korean official use, a number of other Sino-Korean country names have been replaced with phonetically oriented Hangulizations of the countries' endonyms of English names.

Because of such a prevalence of English in modern Korean culture and society, it is only inevitable that a sense of diglossia emerges. It is not rare to find instances where one would mix both English and Korean in the same sentence. The vocabulary of the Korean language is roughly 5% loanwords (excluding Sino-Korean vocabulary); people often use English words and end up code-switching without even realizing it. This is often referred to as konglish.[16]

As in Japanese, Korean uses words adapted from English in ways that may seem strange to native English speakers. For example, in soccer heading (헤딩) is used as a noun meaning a 'header', while fighting (화이팅) is a term of encouragement like 'come on'/'go (on)' in English. Something that is 'service' (서비스) is free or 'on the house'. A building referred to as an 'apart' (아파트) is an 'apartment' and a type of pencil that is called 'sharp' (샤프) is a mechanical pencil.

North Korean vocabulary shows a tendency to prefer native Korean over Sino-Korean or foreign borrowings, especially with recent political objectives aimed at eliminating foreign influences on the Korean language in the North. In the early years, the North Korean government tried to completely eliminate Sino-Korean words from the language used in the society. By contrast, South Korean may have several Sino-Korean or foreign borrowings which tend to be absent in North Korean.

Writing system

Korean writing systems
Hangul
Hanja
Mixed script
Korean transliteration

Formerly the languages of the Korean peninsula were written using hanja, using hyangchal or idu. Such systems relied on principles of rebus, and were lost, later in history. Writing became confined to the ruling elite, who used hanja to write in Classical Chinese.

Korean is now mainly written in Hangul, the Korean alphabet promulgated in 1446 by Sejong the Great. While South Korean schools still teach 1,800 hanja characters, North Korea abolished the use of hanja decades ago.

Below is a chart of the Korean alphabet's symbols and their canonical IPA values:

Consonants
Hangul    
RR b d j g pp tt jj kk p t ch k s h ss m n ng   r,l  
IPA p t t͡ɕ k t͡ɕ͈ t͡ɕʰ s h m n ŋ w r j
Vowels
Hangul
RR i e oe ae a o u eo eu ui ye yae ya yo yu yeo wi we wae wa wo
IPA i e ø ɛ a o u /ə/ or /ɔ/ ɯ ɰi je ja jo ju /jə/ or /jɔ/ wi we wa /wə/ or /wɔ/

Modern Korean is written with spaces between words, a feature not found in Chinese or Japanese. Korean punctuation marks are almost identical to Western ones. Traditionally, Korean was written in columns from top to bottom, right to left, but is now usually written in rows from left to right, top to bottom.

Differences between North Korean and South Korean

The Korean language used in the North and the South exhibits differences in pronunciation, spelling, grammar and vocabulary.[22]

Pronunciation

In North Korea, palatalization of /si/ is optional, and /t͡ɕ/ can be pronounced [z] between vowels.

Words that are written the same way may be pronounced differently, such as the examples below. The pronunciations below are given in Revised Romanization, McCune-Reischauer and Hangul, the last of which represents what the Hangul would be if one writes the word as pronounced.

Word Meaning Pronunciation
North (RR/MR) North (Hangul) South (RR/MR) South (Hangul)
읽고 to read
(continuative form)
ilko (ilko) 일코 ilkko (ilkko) 일꼬
압록강 Amnok River amrokgang (amrokkang) 암록깡 amnokkang (amnokkang) 암녹깡
독립 independence dongrip (tongrip) 동립 dongnip (tongnip) 동닙
관념 idea / sense / conception gwallyeom (kwallyŏm) 괄렴 gwannyeom (kwannyŏm) 관념
혁신적* innovative hyeoksinjjeok (hyŏksintchŏk) 혁씬쩍 hyeoksinjeok (hyŏksinjŏk) 혁씬적

* Similar pronunciation is used in the North whenever the hanja "的" is attached to a Sino-Korean word ending in ㄴ, ㅁ or ㅇ. (In the South, this rule only applies when it is attached to any single-character Sino-Korean word.)

Spelling

Some words are spelled differently by the North and the South, but the pronunciations are the same.

Word Meaning Pronunciation (RR/MR) Remarks
North spelling South spelling
해빛 햇빛 sunshine haeppit (haepit) The "sai siot" ('ㅅ' used for indicating sound change) is almost never written out in the North.
벗꽃 벚꽃 cherry blossom beotkkot (pŏtkkot)
못읽다 못 읽다 cannot read monnikda (monnikta) Spacing.
한나산 한라산 Hallasan hallasan (hallasan) When a ㄴ-ㄹ combination is pronounced as ll, the original Hangul spelling is kept in the North, while the Hangul is changed in the South.
규률 규율 rules gyuyul (kyuyul) In words where the original hanja is spelt "렬" or "률" and follows a vowel, the initial ㄹ is not pronounced in the North, making the pronunciation identical with that in the South where the ㄹ is dropped in the spelling.

Spelling and pronunciation

Some words have different spellings and pronunciations in the North and the South, some of which were given in the "Phonology" section above:

Word Meaning Remarks
North spelling North pronun. South spelling South pronun.
력량 ryeongryang (ryŏngryang) 역량 yeongnyang (yŏngnyang) strength Initial r's are dropped if followed by i or y in the South Korean version of Korean.
로동 rodong (rodong) 노동 nodong (nodong) work Initial r's are demoted to an n if not followed by i or y in the South Korean version of Korean.
원쑤 wonssu (wŏnssu) 원수 wonsu (wŏnsu) mortal enemy "Mortal enemy" and "head of state" are homophones in the South. Possibly to avoid referring to Kim Il-sung / Kim Jong-il as the enemy, the second syllable of "enemy" is written and pronounced 쑤 in the North.
라지오 rajio (rajio) 라디오 radio (radio) radio
u (u) wi (wi) on; above
안해 anhae (anhae) 아내 anae (anae) wife
꾸바 kkuba (kkuba) 쿠바 kuba (k'uba) Cuba When transcribing foreign words from languages that do not have contrasts between aspirated and unaspirated stops, North Koreans generally use tensed stops for the unaspirated ones while South Koreans use aspirated stops in both cases.
pe (p'e) pye (p'ye), pe (p'e) lungs In the case where ye comes after a constant, such as in hye and pye, it is pronounced without the palatal approximate. North Korean orthography reflect this pronunciation nuance.

In general, when transcribing place names, North Korea tends to use the pronunciation in the original language more than South Korea, which often uses the pronunciation in English. For example:

Original name North Korea transliteration English name South Korea transliteration
Spelling Pronunciation Spelling Pronunciaton
Ulaanbaatar 울란바따르 ullanbattareu (ullanbattarŭ) Ulan Bator 울란바토르 ullanbatoreu (ullanbat'orŭ)
København 쾨뻰하븐 koeppenhabeun (k'oeppenhabŭn) Copenhagen 코펜하겐 kopenhagen (k'op'enhagen)
al-Qāhirah 까히라 kkahira (kkahira) Cairo 카이로 kairo (k'airo)

Grammar

Some grammatical constructions are also different:

Word Meaning Remarks
North spelling North pronun. South spelling South pronun.
되였다 doeyeotda (toeyŏtta) 되었다 doeeotda (toeŏtta) past tense of 되다 (doeda/toeda), "to become" All similar grammar forms of verbs or adjectives that end in ㅣ in the stem (i.e. ㅣ, ㅐ, ㅔ, ㅚ, ㅟ and ㅢ) in the North use 여 instead of the South's 어.
고마와요 gomawayo (komawayo) 고마워요 gomawoyo (komawŏyo) thanks ㅂ-irregular verbs in the North use 와 (wa) for all those with a positive ending vowel; this only happens in the South if the verb stem has only one syllable.
할가요 halgayo (halkayo) 할까요 halkkayo (halkkayo) Shall we do? Although the Hangul differ, the pronunciations are the same (i.e. with the tensed ㄲ sound).

Vocabulary

Some vocabulary is different between the North and the South:

Word Meaning Remarks
North spelling North pronun. South spelling South pronun.
문화주택 munhwajutaek (munhwajut'aek) 아파트 apateu (ap'at'ŭ) Apartment 아빠트 (appateu/appat'ŭ) is also used in the North.
조선말 joseonmal (chosŏnmal) 한국어 han-gugeo (han'gugeo) Korean language
곽밥 gwakbap (kwakpap) 도시락 dosirak (tosirak) lunch box
동무 dongmu (dongmoo) 친구 chingu (chingoo) Friend 동무 literally means "comrade" as distinct from "friend," and thus the northern use of 동무 reflects political/ideological tendencies.

Others

In the North, guillemets and are the symbols used for quotes; in the South, quotation marks equivalent to the English ones, “ and ”, are standard, although 『 』 and 「 」 are sometimes used in popular novels.

Study by non-native learners

The United States' Defense Language Institute places Korean in Category IV, which also includes Arabic, Japanese, and Chinese. This means that 63 weeks of instruction (as compared to just 25 weeks for French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian) are required to bring an English-speaking student to a limited working level of proficiency in which he or she has "sufficient capability to meet routine social demands and limited job requirements" and "can deal with concrete topics in past, present, and future tense."[23] Furthermore, the study of the Korean language in the United States is dominated by Korean American heritage language students; they are estimated to form over 80% of all students of the language at non-military universities.[24]

However, Korean is considerably easier for speakers of certain other languages, such as Japanese; in Japan, it is more widely studied by non-heritage learners.[25] The Korean Language Proficiency Test, an examination aimed at assessing non-native speakers' competence in Korean, was instituted in 1997; 17,000 people applied for the 2005 sitting of the examination.[26]

Glossary

Administrative divisions

See also

References

  1. ^ Korean language at Ethnologue
  2. ^ Song, Jae Jung (2005) "The Korean language: structure, use and context" Routledge, p. 15
    Lyle Campbell & Mauricio Mixco. 2007. A Glossary of Historical Linguistics. University of Utah Press. ("Korean, A language isolate", pg. 90; "Korean is often said to belong with the Altaic hypothesis, often also with Japanese, though this is not widely supported," pp. 90-91; "...most specialists...no longer believe that the...Altaic groups...are related," pg. 7)
    David Dalby. 1999/2000. The Linguasphere Register of the World's Languages and Speech Communities. Linguasphere Press.
    Nam-Kil Kim. 1992. "Korean," International Encyclopedia of Linguistics. Volume 2, pp. 282-286. ("...scholars have tried to establish genetic relationships between Korean and other languages and major language families, but with little success," pg. 282)
    András Róna-Tas. 1998. "The Reconstruction of Proto-Turkic and the Genetic Question," The Turkic Languages. Routledge. Pp. 67-80. ("[Ramstedt's comparisons of Korean and Altaic] have been heavily criticised in more recent studies, though the idea of a genetic relationship has not been totally abandoned," pg. 77.)
    Claus Schönig. 2003. "Turko-Mongolic Relations," The Mongolic Languages. Routledge. Pp. 403-419. ("...the 'Altaic' languages do not seem to share a common basic vocabulary of the type normally present in cases of genetic relationship," pg. 403)
  3. ^ Stratification in the peopling of China: how far does the linguistic evidence match genetics and archaeology? In; Sanchez-Mazas, Blench, Ross, Lin & Pejros eds. Human migrations in continental East Asia and Taiwan: genetic, linguistic and archaeological evidence. 2008. Taylor & Francis
  4. ^ eg Miller 1971, 1996, Starostin et al. 2003
  5. ^ eg Vovin 2008: 1
  6. ^ Trask 1996: 147-151
  7. ^ Rybatzki 2003: 57
  8. ^ Vovin 2008: 5
  9. ^ eg Martin 1966, 1990
  10. ^ eg Miller 1971, 1996
  11. ^ Sergei Starostin. Altaiskaya problema i proishozhdeniye yaponskogo yazika (The Altaic Problem and the Origins of the Japanese Language). http://www.alib.ru/findp.php4?author=%D1%F2%E0%F0%EE%F1%F2%E8%ED&title=%C0%EB%F2%E0%E9%F1%EA%E0%FF+%EF%F0%EE%E1%EB%E5%EC%E0+%E8+%EF%F0%EE%E8%F1%F5%EE%E6%E4%E5%ED%E8%E5+%FF%EF%EE%ED%F1%EA%EE%E3%EE+%FF%E7%FB%EA%E0+. 
  12. ^ Vovin 2008
  13. ^ Whitman 1985: 232, also found in Martin 1966: 233
  14. ^ Vovin 2008: 211-212
  15. ^ Lee, Chul Young (2004). Essential Grammar for Korean as a second Language. pp. 18–19. http://brskl.org/resources/upload/2009-8-28/KoreanGrammarTextbook.pdf. Retrieved 3 January 2010. 
  16. ^ a b c d Sohn, Ho-Min (2006). Korean Language in Culture and Society. Boston: Twayne Publishers. ISBN 9780824826949. 
  17. ^ Cho, Young A. “ Gender Differences in Korean Speech.” Korean Language in Culture and Society. Ed. Ho-min Sohn. University of Hawaii Press, 2006. Pages 189–198.
  18. ^ Kim, Minju. “Cross Adoption of language between different genders: The case of the Korean kinship terms hyeng and enni.” Proceedings of the Fifth Berkley Woman and Language Conference. Berkeley: Berkeley Women and Language Group. 1999.
  19. ^ Palley, Marian Lief. “Women’s Status in South Korea: Tradition and Change.” Asian Survey, Vol 30 No. 12. December 1990. Pages 1136–1153.
  20. ^ a b c Sohn, Ho-Min. The Korean Language (Section 1.5.3 "Korean vocabulary", p.12–13), Cambridge University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-521-36943-6.
  21. ^ Kim, Jin-su (2009-09-11). "우리말 70%가 한자말? 일제가 왜곡한 거라네/Our language is 70% hanja? Japanese Empire distortion". The Hankyoreh. http://www.hani.co.kr/arti/culture/religion/376204.html. Retrieved 2009-09-11 . The dictionary mentioned is 우리말 큰 사전. Seoul: Hangeul Hakhoe. 1992. OCLC 27072560 
  22. ^ Kanno, Hiroomi (ed.) / Society for Korean Linguistics in Japan (1987). Chōsengo o manabō (『朝鮮語を学ぼう』), Sanshūsha, Tokyo. ISBN 4-384-01506-2
  23. ^ Raugh, Harold E.. "The Origins of the Transformation of the Defense Language Program". Applied Language Learning 16 (2): 1–12. http://www.dliflc.edu/academics/academic_materials/all/ALLissues/all16two.pdf. Retrieved 2008-01-09. 
  24. ^ Lee, Saekyun H.; HyunJoo Han. "Issues of Validity of SAT Subject Test Korea with Listening". Applied Language Learning 17 (1): 33–56. Archived from the original on 2008-06-25. http://web.archive.org/web/20080625112846/http://www.dliflc.edu/academics/academic_materials/all/ALLissues/ALL17.pdf. 
  25. ^ Fujita-Round, Sachiyo; John C. Maher (2007). "Language Education Policy in Japan". Language policy and political issues in education. United States: Springer. pp. 393–404. ISBN 978-0-387-32875-1. 
  26. ^ "Korea Marks 558th Hangul Day". The Chosun Ilbo. 2004-10-10. Archived from the original on 2008-02-19. http://web.archive.org/web/20080219042456/http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200410/200410100002.html. Retrieved 2008-01-09. 

Further reading

  • Chang, Suk-jin (1996). Korean. Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. ISBN 1556197284.  (Volume 4 of the London Oriental and African Language Library).
  • Hulbert, Homer B. (1905): A Comparative Grammar of the Korean Language and the Dravidian Dialects in India. Seoul.
  • Lee, Ki-Moon Lee and S. Robert Ramsey. A History of the Korean Language (Cambridge University Press; 2011) 352 pages.
  • Martin, Samuel E. (1966): Lexical Evidence Relating Japanese to Korean. Language 42/2: 185–251.
  • Martin, Samuel E. (1990): Morphological clues to the relationship of Japanese and Korean. In: Philip Baldi (ed.): Linguistic Change and Reconstruction Methodology. Trends in Linguistics: Studies and Monographs 45: 483-509.
  • Miller, Roy Andrew (1971): Japanese and the Other Altaic Languages. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-52719-0.
  • Miller, Roy Andrew (1996): Languages and History: Japanese, Korean and Altaic. Oslo: Institute for Comparative Research in Human Culture. ISBN 974-8299-69-4.
  • Ramstedt, G. J. (1928): Remarks on the Korean language. Mémoires de la Société Finno-Oigrienne 58.
  • Rybatzki, Volker (2003): Middle Mongol. In: Juha Janhunen (ed.) (2003): The Mongolic languages. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-7007-1133-3: 47–82.
  • Starostin, Sergei A.; Anna V. Dybo; Oleg A. Mudrak (2003): Etymological Dictionary of the Altaic Languages, 3 volumes. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers. ISBN 90-04-13153-1.
  • Sohn, H.-M. (1999): The Korean Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Sohn, Ho-Min (2006). Korean Language in Culture and Society. Boston: Twayne Publishers. ISBN 9780824826949. 
  • Song, J.-J. (2005): The Korean Language: Structure, Use and Context. London: Routledge.
  • Trask, R. L. (1996): Historical linguistics. Hodder Arnold.
  • Vovin, Alexander: Koreo-Japonica. University of Hawai'i Press.
  • Whitman, John B. (1985): The Phonological Basis for the Comparison of Japanese and Korean. Unpublished Harvard University Ph.D. dissertation.

External links


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