About the Korean language
안녕하세요! (pronounced: An-nyeong-ha-se-yo!) – that is Korean and means Hallo!
Korean is the native language of about 78 million people in the world.
The majority of Korean speakers live in North and South Korea, but also in China, Japan, India and the USA.
Further Korean communities are found in Russia, Saudi Arabian and Germany.
Korean is the official language of South Korea, North Korea and in the autonomous of Yanbian located in east of China.
If you start to learn Korean, you will be learning a unique language.
Korean – A challenge for linguists
In the field of linguistics Korean has a special place as until now Linguistic Science has not categorically assigned Korean to a language group.
Unclear is whether or not it can be classed as an Altaic Language like Turkish, Kyrgyz, Kazakh and Mongolian.
In favour of this classification is the fact that Korean’s structure is similar to that of other languages in this group.
The Altaic languages are agglutinating languages and a mark of these languages is that the meanings of words are altered by the addition of a syllable at the end of the word.
Other Linguists have researched a link between Korean and Japanese, but have not been able to prove this connection.
Therefore many Linguists classify Korean as a unique language unrelated to any other languages of the world.
A special feature of this language is the script with which it is written:
Hangeul – the Korean alphabet
Until the end of the 14th Century all Korean texts were written in Chinese characters.
In the 15th Century King Sejong the Great (reigned 1418 till 1450) ordered the creation of a Korean alphabet.
One objective of this was to create a script that was systematic and easy for all of his people to learn.
Under his leadership a script was developed in which all sounds in the Korean language, words from Chinese and other foreign languages
and even noises from Nature (like bird chirping and the whistle of the wind) could be written.
The result of this research is the Hangeul script which to this day in a modernised form is still used in Korea.
The Hangeul script can be written vertically or horizontally. Both forms are used in Korea today.
The document that King Sejong had created to spread this script across the land and to teach his people the new script,
has been recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage document.
The Hangeul script is unique in the world, in that its inventor and date of invention are known and documented.
The scripts of other languages of the world have developed over a long time and have been altered by rulers, scientists and of course
their speakers in small steps over time.
These changes can only be observed by Linguists over long time periods and cannot be dated to an exact date.
Hangeul is also well adapted for the 21st Century:
The syllables from which Korean is built are easily adaptable for computer keyboards and phones.
In the language courses from 17 Minute Languages you will find next to the Hangeul script Roman alphabet transcriptions of the
words in order to help you learn and read quickly.
With the language courses from 17 Minute Languages you will learn Korean as it is spoken in South Korea.
The difference between modern South Korean and North Korean is that in South Korea many English words have entered the
language whereas in the North this trend has been suppressed.
Would you like to know more about Korea and its language?
Would you like to learn Korean?
The Korean Courses from 17 Minute Languages are available at various levels: