Korean Language

Korean is the official language of both the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), which have a total combined population of around 73 million (50 million in the South and 23 million in the North), making it the 14th most widely spoken languages of the world. Korean is also spoken in large ethnic Korean communities in China, Japan, the USA and Central Asia. Korean is considered by some linguists to belong to the Altaic language family. This would mean that Korean is related to Turkish, Mongolian and Manchu in Northeast China.

Korean is generally considered to be one of the most difficult major languages for English speakers to become fluent in. The reasons for this include the different word order (in Korean sentences, the verb always comes last), the elaborate honorifics system, i.e. the use of different verb endings and vocabulary depending on your relationship with the person you are talking to and a mind-blowing array of case particles and verb endings.

However, the good news is that picking up the basics is relatively easy, particularly in comparison with other Asian languages. Unlike Japanese or Chinese, the Korean writing system (한글-Hangul) is alphabetic and can be learned relatively quickly, thanks to the hard work of The Great King Sejong-세종대왕 (the 4th king of the Joseon Dynasty, reigning from 1418-1450).

 

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(The Great King Sejong)

 

In addition, unlike Chinese or Vietnamese, Korean has no tones and few pronunciations that cause major problems for English speakers. Korean also does not have any of the gender, number agreements or articles that plague learners of European languages such as French.

There is one particular good news for Chinese Speakers that Korean language has imbibed strains from Chinese, with as much as 60% of the vocabulary comprising of Sino-Korean words. Only 35% of the words in the Korean language have a Korean lineage, while the rest 5% have come from different languages of the world, primarily English.

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