5 Facts About The Korean Language All Learners Should Know
Korea is a nation of wonders and many firsts.
For instance, did you know that in Korea, babies are considered one year old at birth? Or even more fascinating is the fact that makeup is not just a ladies thing in Korea. Korean men are renowned for their love of makeup, spending up to 900 million U.S. Dollars on make up each year! That’s an average of U.S. $ 40 per gentleman each year.
But perhaps a more fascinating thing about Korea is their language.
If you’ve signed up for Korean lessons in Singapore, the following facts about the Korean language will not just awe you, but inch you closer to mastering it.
Minor differences between North and South Korean language
However, many people think that the Korean language is not very different between the Northerners and Southerners, yet the differences exist.
For starters, South Koreans formally refer to their language as Hangugeo. On the other hand, the Northerners call their version Chosŏnŏ.
South Korea, which has been open to Western influence over the last century or so, has also borrowed many words from Western languages. The most influential language has been, of course, English, which has seen words like “juice” translated into 주스 or juseu in South Korea.
However, North Korea has remained more conservative. Refraining from using English loan words and sticking to the traditional Chinese vocabulary influence. Words like “juice” are translated to 단물 or “danmul” which has the literal meaning “sweet waters.”
Verbs come last in a sentence structure
English and many Western languages are arranged in SVO (subject, verb then object) order. It is unlike the Korean language, which is an SOV language (subject, object, and verb), meaning the verb comes last.
Little difference between singular and plural nouns
In English, there’s a distinct difference of nouns depending on whether they are single or plural. For instance, one ball versus five balls. However, this difference does not apply to Korean.
In Korean, not all nouns change to indicate an increase in number or more than one person and place. What really matters is the context of the phrase.
You will need to practice a little more on these two aspects, other than in your routine Korean classes in Singapore to master it.
Korean is distinct from Chinese
Today, written Korean exists in three parts.
Firstly is Han’gul, the modern alphabet. Secondly is Han’ja borrowed Chinese characters incorporated into modern Korean. Lastly is Mi-ahl’ bhet-gul, characters largely borrowed from Western cultures and used on public utilities.
Han’ja is the oldest writing system in Korea. Although its’ roots are Chinese; it is unlike its parent. Hanj’a is not pictograph based. Instead, it is established on different arrangements of sounds and syllables.
Essential honorifics structure
You may master the vocabulary, grammar and history extensively. You may even master the pronunciations to near perfect levels. However, if you are not acquainted with the honorific system, you’ll always seem lost.
The honorific system directs how you speak to different people depending on their social status or your connection with them.
You cannot address an employer the same way you would a relative.
Hence, there are different speech levels to express different levels of respect.