Beverly Hills Lingual Institute
Beverly Hills Lingual Institute
Beverly Hills Lingual Institute
Beverly Hills Lingual Institute

An Introduction to the Korean language

Annyeonghaseyo! The English word "Korean" is derived from Goryeo, which is thought to be the first Korean dynasty known to Western nations. Koreans call their language Hangugo (Hahn-guu-go) and their writing system Hangul (Hahn-guul, also Chosŏn'gŭl in North Korea). The native language for more than 80 million people, Hangugo has been said to be distantly related to such Ural-Altaic languages as Mongolian and Finnish.

The Hangul writing system was introduced in 1445 A.D. by King Sejong, who commissioned a team of scholars to create a phonetic script for the Korean language. Prior to that time, educated Koreans (the privileged upper class) wrote with Chinese ideograms (Hanja).

Hangul may well be among the most rational and practical of the world's writing systems, since it was deliberately devised by a team of scientific experts, at the behest of the king, as opposed to developing organically. The new, simple Hangul script made it possible for the poor and less educated to learn how to read and write in just a few weeks. However, the upper class in Korea continued to use Chinese ideograms in their writing. Even today, Koreans may combine Chinese characters and Korean phonetic script when they write.

The Hangul script is based on 24 phonetic symbols that are combined to make all the sounds in the Korean language. The complete Korean alphabet or Ka-na-da (Kah-nah-dah) consists of 140 syllables that are combinations of ten vowel sounds and 14 consonant sounds. In this sense, Korean is similar to Japanese. Korean words, like their Japanese counterparts, consist of a specific number of syllables formed by combining vowel and consonant sounds. A large number of words are either the same or nearly the same.

There are no f, v, or z sounds in Korean. Like Japanese, Korean has no particles ("the," "a"). Singular and plural are usually not distinguished, and it is common to omit the subject ("you," "him," "they," etc.) in a sentence when it is understood.

It is tricky to write Korean with ABC letters, a practice commonly known as "Romanization." There are several ways of spelling some words, and it often seems that each Korean has their own way of Romanizing the language because of variations in pronunciation. An additional problem is posed by the common practice, in Korean script, of runningwordstogether.

Students of the Korean language can take heart that, unlike Chinese, spoken Korean exhibits very little if any variation in pitch and has no accented syllables. When there is a pitch change, it is normally for emphasis—as in a question, a declaration, or a command.

Tue 25 Jun 24

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