Talk:Korean language/Archive 1

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Archive 1 Archive 2


Pronunciation Table Error

It says: "Words that are written the same way may be pronounced differently, such as the examples below." Yet for 읽고 they both have ilkko (ilko)/ 일꼬 for north and south —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:25, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

Question about the difference between North and South Korean

Question about the difference between North and South Korean Language.

1) North Korea: They only use 100 percent Korean. ( No Chinese character all Chinese or western derived vocabulary is replaced with Korean words). 2) North Korea, Regional accent ( Pyongyang, Hamkyungpukdo accent are two North Korean regional accent). 3) North Korean writing is same as South Korea but surname writing is different. (이Lee (South) but in 리 Lee ( North).

1) South Korea: 60 percent Korean and 40 percent ( Chinese and Western vocabulary usage) 2) South Korea, Regional accent ( Kyungsangdo, Chollanamdo accent are two South Korean regional accent). 3) South Korean, writing is same as North Korea but only difference South. They use 60 percent Korean plus 40 percent ( Chinese and western word vocabulary)

Fact: North and South Korea use Hangul writing. Speak: Korean as native official language. North and South Korea, both Koreans do not depend on Chinese character for daily life. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Korea4one (talkcontribs) 07:10, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

I am wondering. I have only been living in Korea for almost 3 years but according to a sign near the South-North Korean border, apartment in North Korean is 고층살림집 and not 문화주택. I took a picture of the sign if anyone is interested. I am wondering which word is the most correct.

Hello, I was the editor adding the information. I got the information from a book that was written by a specialist Korean linguistics research group, so while of course one still can't be 100% certain, I think it is probably correct. Additionally, I've also heard a North Korean song that uses "문화주택":
집없는 형제들엔 문화주택 세워주고...

-- KittySaturn 22:58, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

Similarities between Korean and Japanese

Korean and Japanese

1) Grammar between Korean and Japanese are similiar. 2) Language Tone between Korean and Japanese are similiar. 3) Vocabulary ( some) Korean and Japanese are similiar. For example, Kibun in Korean and Japanese means same thing " Feeling". 4) Chinese lone words or Chinese vocabulary: Korean and Japanese sound similiar than Chinese pronunciation. 5) Chinese characture usage: Japanese use more chinese characters then Korean language. 6) Koreans and Japanese tend to understand eachother better then understanding Chinese. 7) Many Japanese and Korean ( Enka) singers sound similiar. 8) Japanese language are off shoot language from Korean language. 9) Korean language is related to Altaic. Japanese being isolate or related to Japanonic. 10)Korean does not relate to Vietnamese. Vietnamese sounds more like Thai or Southern Chinese dialect. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Koreakoreawatch (talkcontribs) 09:21, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

Many Koreans have vociferously denied my observation that similarities exists between Japanese and Korean. I suppose this is a reaction to the 1910-1945 Japanese annexation of Korea and Japan's attempt to wipe out Korean language and culture. --Ed Poor

My guess is that they are not familar with the Japanese language. The grammar is strikingly similar to Japanese, and that should be mentioned in the article. -- Wsxyz

English speakers emphatically deny the textual affinities between their language and the harsh, thundering German. And Vietnamese sounds downright awkward to Cantonese ears even though speakers of other languaguages can't tell them apart. Koreans are of course awfully familiar with Japanese. But "similarity" is subjective when the question comes to whether ones "own" language is similar to another. It's often the case that the more objectively similar a language is to ones own, the more awkward it sounds to his/her ears, thus the less likely he/she is to acknowledge its affinity. For analogy in ethnic identities, please read Michael Ignatieff The Warrior's Honor. He has devoted a large chapter on how Serbs who can perfectly accept Americans as fellow human beings, have such a hard time tolerating Croats.
Cantonese and Vietnamese are unrelated. The former is a Chinese language, part of the Sino-Tibetan family (assuming that's a valid family), and the latter is a member of the Mon-Khmer branch of the Austroasiatic family. Godfrey Daniel 01:46, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

When one says two languages are similar, the first thing comes to mind is that "can a Korean native understands what a Japanese person speak or write?" That was my first reaction. The two languages are NOT similar. However, if you look at the two languages in terms of their grammar structures or other linguistic aspects, you may get a different observation. If you have evidences that show the similarities, you should point them out. This claim is as wild as saying all European languages are similiar because they all use similar alphabets.

Korean and Japanese ARE similar for the large numbers of neologisms of Sinitic etymologies contained in both, many of which identical in construct. Similarities are also remarkable in terms of grammar and some basic words, even though the two languages stem from separate ancestries. It is speculated that the Japanese people migrated to their islands in 4th century A.D., carrying a language that might well have formed a "sprachbund" with the ancestor of modern Korean. However, great deal of Oceanic(possibly Austronesian or Ainu) influences are detected in Japanese phonetics and lexical formation, which is meager, if any, in the Korean language which bare more phonetic affinities with Ural-Altaic Sprachbund languages.
A similarity in loanwords is not a valid basis for making an argument for a genetic relationship. Grammar might be a useful comparative tool after a relationship has been clearly demonstrated; no such demonstration has been made for Japanese and Korean (though there have been valid attempts). Godfrey Daniel 01:46, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

For example, Taiwanese and Fujianese are very similar dialects because a Taiwanese native can visit Fujian and guess 80% of what the locals say. Mandarin and Cantonese are not similar because one may be able to guess perhaps 10%. The Chinese dialects are all influenced by the same written language, yet, speakers cannot understand each others. Korean and Japanese are totally different in terms of writing and volcaburaries. It is not an easy task to show their similiarities.

Korean and Japanese ( Grammar Similiarities).

Korean and Japanese writing is different. Korean and Japanese spoken language is different. But how can you argue Korean and Japanese grammar ( Same or Similiar). Korean and Japanese didn't adopt "Chinese grammar" for sure. Language Intonation between Korean and Japanese language is ( Same or Similiar) rather than Chinese or Cantonese. How can you explain Korean and Japanese being similiar in " Grammar" or " Language Intonation" because these Korean and Japanese were influenced by Chinese culture??? I don't think so. It cleary shows Japanese language were offshoot from Korean language. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Korea4one (talkcontribs) 08:33, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

Taiwanese IS friggin Fujianese! lol It's a variety of Hoklo. Hoisan Cantonese is "not similar to" Metropolitan Cantonese, or Sichuan Mandarin is not similar to Putonghua only in the sense that they sound "awkward" to speakers of the standard variants of these languages.

It is worth pointing out that, in linguistic terms, calling two languages "related" or "similar" does not necessarily mean that the two have to be mutually intelligible. The relation between Korean and Japanese has little to do with similar Sinic vocabulary, primarily words borrowed wholesale from Chinese, and everything to do with structure and grammar. Writing systems are irrelevant -- if I wanted to, I could write Dutch in Arabic script, but that would not change the fundamental fact that it is related to both English and German. A rose by any other name, or a word in any other script, as the case may be.
It is also worth pointing out that languages change over time. English and Icelandic are relatives, but that does not mean that an Icelandic speaker would know what an English speaker was saying. Linguistic drift over time is an important factor to bear in mind, as two separate languages may have once started from the same pool of speakers. One cannot make sweeping statements that languages A and B are completely unrelated simply on the basis of their modern forms; one must look back over the historical record (if one exists) and/or attempt to linguistically reconstruct how the languages might have changed in order to gain some insight into what roots each might have sprung from.
For example, the ending particle yo in Japanese was used differently in ages past, in a way that seems to match the use of the ending copula ieyo in modern Korean. Both languages also have a particle e used to mark direction, as in ǒdi e kayo in Korean and doko e iku in Japanese, both of which ask "where to go?" This usage remains largely unchanged in Japanese for at least a thousand years. I suspect a similar timeline for the Korean particle, though I have not yet had the opportunity to delve as deeply into the historical record.
But the similarities go beyond just a few particles and the overall SOV structure to include the social deictic whereby verb forms change depending on the speaker's relation to their audience and the subject(s) being spoken about. There are even some fun idiomatic similarities; both Korean and Japanese speakers proclaim "that's cold!" when someone makes a clever pun -- samui in Japanese and solǒng'e in Korean (if memory serves).
There are also some theories in linguistics suggesting that looking solely at vocabulary can be very misleading, for words can be quite easily swapped for imports, whereas grammar and basic structure cannot be so quickly exchanged as they are more integral to the system of the language. If the words of two languages are completely different, but the grammars identical, chances are they come from similar roots. According to some (admittedly narrow) definitions of what a language is, identical grammars would necessarily mean identical languages, for the actual pronunciation of any word is ultimately arbitrary. Why do we call a common four-legged mammalian companion creature a "dog" and not a "broccoli", for instance? And if I were to arbitrarily decide to change the pronunciation of a series of words, but kept the meanings and underlying grammar the same, such as: "Gnu mink lek broccoli fim ki farptut" to mean, word for word, "I took the dog for a walk," would that not still be English?
Anyway, my basic point here is that you really need to study some linguistics and both languages before you make any strong claims either that they are related, or that they are unrelated. It's great that people are interested in whether or not there is a relationship between Korean and Japanese; some good related pages to look at include: Deixis, Comparative method, Historical linguistics (aka "Diachronic linguistics"), Etymology, and Linguistic typology and its daughter pages, for a good start. Here's to having a good, meaty, and informed discussion!  :)
Cheers, --- Eiríkr Útlendi 10:03, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Eirikr, the Japanese ending particle /-jo/ has never been used in a manner similar to Modern Korean /-jo/, which have completely different functions and etymological origins. The origin of Japanese /-jo/ is obscure, but suffice it to say that it has no function other than (1) a vocative case marker, or (2) an emphatic declarative mood marker. Modern Korean /-jo/ is apparently derived from an earlier /i-zo/, which consists of the Korean copula /i-/ suffixed with the somewhat polite declarative mood marker, Late Middle Korean /-zo/ ~ /-so/ > Modern Korean /-o/ ~ /-so/. The function of the rather recently derived Modern Korean /-jo/ does not even resemble the function of Japanese /-jo/ (which, by the way, has a much longer history), as Korean /-jo/ has no function other than as a marker of (1) neutral-polite indicative mood, or (2) neutral-polite interrogative mood. You should have recognized that there is a fundamental difference in the nature of Korean /-jo/ and Japanese /-jo/, despite the similarity in the phonological form of the two modern morphemes: Korean /-jo/ must be suffixed to the /-a/ ~ /-ə/ extended form of a verb stem, whereas Japanese /-jo/ is often used as a vocative case-marking postposition immediately after a noun, and this was even more strictly so in earlier times, although in Modern Japanese the form /-jo/ has come to be used also as a sort of supplementary phrase-final emphatic mood marker. If you were going to claim that there was a cognate in Korean of the Japanese mood marker /-jo/, I would suggest that you propose a relationship with the somewhat stilted and rarely used Korean honorific vocative case marker /-ijə/ ~ /-jə/, because the function of that form at least bears some resemblance to the function of Japanese /-jo/. A relationship between Korean /-ijə/ ~ /-jə/ and Japanese /-jo/ is, however, equally unprovable from the perspective of a historical linguist, because we lack the relevant documentation of ancient forms of these languages that might allow us to discover regular morphophonological correspondences between the two languages and reconstruct a proto-language from which both modern Korean and Japanese could be derived according to regular sound changes.
Also, your comments about "languages with identical grammars are the same language no matter how different their vocabulary may be" are absolutely ridiculous. A comparison of any two languages based on the small number of variables that may be found in the grammars of the world's languages has no possibility of producing results that might approach statistical significance. Comparison of vocabulary, for which you seem to have such a disdain, according to the comparative method is the only way to produce statistically significant (in other words, scientifically valid) evidence of a genetic relationship between two languages. I do not have time to go into much detail on this forum, but besides the fact that similarity in the grammars of any two languages is not a scientifically valid proof of a genetic relationship, the grammars of the Korean and Japanese languages were actually quite different as recently as several hundred years ago; many (in fact, nearly all) of the specific, derived grammatical features of the modern forms of the two languages that makes them appear somewhat more similar to each other than either appears to, say, Mongolian are the result of very recent cultural interaction between the Koreans and the Japanese, with the directionality of influence having a strong bias to being from Japanese to Korean. Late Middle Korean of 500 years ago is extremely different from Modern Korean, much more so than Japanese of the 1500s is from the present standard form of Japanese, and the original severity of the difference between the grammars of the two languages can be felt by studying modern Korean local dialects: they behave in a manner that is totally awkward to a Japanese speaker, and frankly don't match well with the artificially standardized, Japanese-influenced grammar of Modern Standard Korean. Ebizur 22:42, 21 October 2006 (UTC)
Just by the way, there have been people who wrote Dutch in the Arabic script. It's called Afrikaans (originally written in Arabic) --Taejo | Talk 21:15, 12 November 2005 (UTC)
Thanks for the note, Taejo. However, it's worth pointing out that simply writing Dutch in Arabic script does not change it into Afrikaans -- Afrikaans is actually a different language, albeit born of Dutch roots. Regular old Dutch written in Arabic script is still Dutch, much as Afrikaans is still Afrikaans even though it is now written in Latin script. Cheers, Eiríkr Útlendi 22:48, 6 December 2005 (UTC)
BS, Afrikaans was never written like that. Wikipeditor
Wikipeditor, be more polite, and check your references. About a third of the way down the Afrikaans page is the following parenthesized note:
the oldest known written Afrikaans uses Arabic script and was intended for use among Cape Town's Muslims
Next time, please at least look over the linked material before harshing on someone's comment. Cheers, Eiríkr Útlendi 16:36, 7 December 2005 (UTC)
Apologies, remorse! Jislaaik, I felt we were being had, unaware of Taejo's background. Please forgive my ignorance and nasty language. Wikipeditor 10:06, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

Comparing modern Korean and Japanese can be misleading. For example, the particle "yo" in Korean comes from "-io" and "-shio." Furthermore, the particle "e" does not mark direction in Korean; rather, it marks location. The particle "ro," however, does mark direction, and is used simultaneously for the instrumental noun case. As for the semantic shifts of these particles: in the three kingdoms time period, the locative particles were "a" and "ae," depending on the vowel class of the noun; and in Middle Korean, the directional particle was "rae." Also, the difference in Korean and Japanese phonology is unaccountable for, such as the lack of consonant endings in Japanese. If these languages were related genetically, they would at least have some cognates such as numbers and body parts; but they do not. Arguing that these languages are genetically related through grammar structure alone is too misleading. One could make an argument that Korean is related to Farsi, Hindi, and Dravidian languages through grammar and structure alone. Some already have: British scholar Homer B. Hulbert tried to relate Korean to Dravidian through the similar syntax in both languages. -- Zippie

Zippie, thanks for the input. Regarding phonological differences, Gaelic sure doesn't sound much like English, but then again they're both widely recognized as members of the Indo-European family. For that matter, modern English doesn't sound a whole lot like reconstructed Middle English, yet they're even the "same" language. Middle English, for instance, pronounced the "k" in "knee" and also the "gh" in "knight", producing some impressive consonant clusters that are no longer found in the modern language (though the are found in modern German, c.f. knie and knecht). Could we not posit that some similar process was at work in the shift from prehistoric to modern Japanese?
For that matter, while Japanese does ostensibly only have the final consonant "n", in terms of what you actually hear, there are effectively other final consonants as well, most obviously the "s" sound produced when the trailing "u" is omitted, and in similar fashion, we find a final "ts" as in yatsu and a final "f" as in Gifu (note that the degree of this phenomenon depends on the speaker). I can also think of a number of cases where consonant clusters happen in the middle of words when the intervening unstressed vowel is omitted, such as yakuza becoming effectively yakza. Historically speaking, the "te" form of verbs was formed by adding a "te" to the verb's attributive form, with iku becoming ikite. In modern Japanese, this has become itte, leading me to wonder if there was at one point the spoken form ikte, producing another consonant cluster that has since disappeared. My point is that the phonological structure of any language can change greatly over time. Forgive me for using your words, but "comparing modern Korean and Japanese can be misleading."  :)
Also, I'm not saying that broad grammatical structures alone are the indicator. Shared SOV word order would not be enough to more than make me shrug and say "hm, that's interesting." What does grab my attention is the large number of finer-grained structural similarities, including the social deixis of verb conjugations with the extensive use of humble and honorific forms, similar use of humble and honorific noun prefixes and even whole words, cognates where they can be found (and the apparently increased presence of cognates seen in other dialects formerly spoken in Korea, such as the Baekje you so kindly referenced elsewhere on this page), similar postpositional case markers, a distinction between the topic and subject of a sentence, the omissible nature of the subject, reduplication, and the relatively compelling archaeological record indicating ethnic relation (again, see elsewhere on this page).
(Incidentally, Farsi and Hindi are both members of the Indo-European group, with verbs including the information for number and person, decidedly separate just on the surface from the broad similarity between Dravidian and Korean verbs in that they do not include such information.)
I'm confused on one point in your response, though -- if e is the locative, as you claim, and ro the directional, then ǒdi e gada? would mean something more like "what location are you going in?" instead of how it is generally understood to mean "to where are you going?" Am I wrong? It seems that e here matches roughly with the English "to", i.e. it sure looks like a directional. This overlaps exactly with the Japanese doko e iku?, "to where are you going?" But then I'm only a beginner with the language and it's been a few months since I've done anything with it, so I'll have to break out my Korean books again.  :) Cheers, Eiríkr Útlendi 22:48, 6 December 2005 (UTC)
The Modern Korean locational/adessive (is this the correct term? meaning "to" as in "going to school," etc.) case-marking postposition derives from Late Middle Korean /-ej/ ("dark" vowel harmonic variant) ~ /-aj/ ("bright" vowel harmonic variant). This postposition appears to have a likely cognate in Mongolic languages and possibly also in Turkic languages. The Modern Japanese directional case-marking postposition /-e/, on the other hand, is derived from Old Japanese */-pe/, and is probably cognate with the fossilized Japanese noun */pe/ > /he/ ~ /-be/ (the far side, away; a side, a perimeter, a shore, the area by or around) and thus exhibits a derivational history similar to that of the Modern English preposition "by." The probability of any genetic relationship between Modern Korean /-e/ and Modern Japanese /-e/ is close to zero.
On that note, I would like to request that Eirikr and others stop trying to make some vague association between Japanese and Polynesian or other Austronesian languages. There is absolutely no compelling evidence, neither linguistic nor genetic, to support making any sort of association between these peoples or their languages. Please study the latest reports in the field of Y-chromosome phylogenetic research: it would certainly do you some good. Ebizur 20:27, 21 October 2006 (UTC)
"ro" is directional more similarly to the "para" of Spanish, and "e" is more like "a" of Spanish, such that "odi e gada" would be "A dónde vas?", and a related sentence, "chaneun ssaro kayo" (or is it saro, I always got ssada and sada mixed up) would be "Voy para comprar" (I'm going to shop/buy), at least, that was how the distinction was made for us in my Korean class a few years back.
It seems you are talking about [verb stem]+, whereas the ro mentioned above was [place]+. Wikipeditor 23:12, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
Right, so the counter example was not the best, but the original example of ǒdi e gada? can also be commonly heard with the 로 in place of the "e" , making it ǒdi ro gada?. I'm not a linguist, just an old Peace Corps volunteer who trys to keep his language skills going, so don't take my observations as final authority, but I think I've seen regional differences in the use of "e" versus "ro". The first is more standard, i.e. Seoul, language, and the latter maybe more Honam usage. --Dan 18:36, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

two articles

Why are there two articles on this page, divided by a line through the middle? -- Zoe

The second part was pasted in from Korean (now a redirect) in November. --Brion 07:15 Feb 2, 2003 (UTC)

Overemphasis of similarities with Japanese

Fact is Grammar structure between Korean and Japanese are similiar. Even Chinese lone words between Korean and Japanese sound similiar. Chinese lone words pronunciation does not sound like Chinese. Korean and Japanese share many words that sounds similiar with similiar meanings. I really don't think past wars and military occupation by Japanese military government can change Korean and Japanese language similiarity. Its not overemphasis of similarities between Korean and Japanse. Its a fact. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Korea4one (talkcontribs) 07:16, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

Removed the following paragraph of little relevancy to general article on Korean:

Though some may think that the Korean language is clearly different from Japanese, this is due to the Japanese using non-Chinese readings to some Chinese characters. For instance, the city of "Hitachi" (日立) is pronounced "Il-lip" in Korean. This is a case where the Japanese word "Tachi" (meaning "standing") is used instead of Chinese-based "Ritsu". In other words, there are irregularities for pronouncing Hanja (or "Kanji") in the Japanese language, due to Japanese using and adapting the Chinese script to the Japanese language. Korean knows no such deviation, due to adoption of the Korean alphabet Hangul.

So Japanese may share some similiarities with Korean. How does this related to the larger picture of the Korean language? This paragraph over-emphasizes an unconfirmed kinship between the Korean and Japanese language by exemplifying with a Chinese-derived word (Hanzi/Hanja/Kanji). --Menchi 01:09, Aug 10, 2003 (UTC)

Add two paragraphs at Korean language#Classification to address the Korean-Japanese-Western linguistic research views as of late 1990s. --Menchi 00:07, Aug 11, 2003 (UTC)

Do not use the Sino-etymology

When trying to link the similarities between Korean and Japanese, one should not use their "sino-etymology." Rather, one should look at "native" Korean and "native" Japanese words, since "sino-etymology" is basically Chinese loanwords. It is like trying to say English is a romance language due to the great amount of the vocab in German is from Latin. I believe that the similarity between Japanese and Korean is from convergence, not genetic. -Bezant

I agree with your point on not looking at vocabulary borrowed from Chinese. However, there seems to be considerable evidence at least in the archaeological record that suggests the core population that became today's Nihonjin came originally from the Korean peninsula. Haniwa findings on the main island of Honshu and also on Kyushu depict a warrior class very similar to concurrent cultures on the mainland. Other finds in the kofun tombs including implements and frescoes likewise depict a society in close relation to groups in the south of the Korean peninsula.
The archaeological record suggests that the kofun and haniwa culture was an arrival from elsewhere, rather than an outgrowth of the previous Jōmon culture -- a number of changes come all together, including rice agriculture, lacquerware, metalworking, and different construction techniques, suggesting that this was not the product of the previous primarily hunter-gatherer society but rather the appearance of something altogether new.
Given also that Japanese sticky rice seems to be closely related to varieties found in Laos, as well as the apparently Polynesian architectural elements in ancient Japanese rooflines still echoed today in more traditionalist shrines (particularly the one at Ise), and the decidedly continental warrior culture, it seems Japan may have been the site of similar cultural admixing to what was seen some time later in Great Britain, giving rise to a mixed language with a structure markedly similar to Korean, but a quite different vocabulary, including some Ainu and Polynesian elements.
Ultimately, the structural similarities between Japanese and Korean, combined with the archaeological record, would seem to point toward a genetic relationship. But then, as with any mixture, narrowing down the list of clear relatives can be quite difficult. At any rate, it merits study.  :)
Cheers, --- Eiríkr Útlendi 14:20, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Regardless, the difference in phonetics between these two languages are too great. The argument that these differences between the two languages were caused by isolation is not plausible, since these two peoples traded with each other often. Therefore, it is most likely convergence, not genetic that these languages are similar in grammar. --Zippie

However, the differences seem to be mostly limited to the phonetics, whereas the structures are quite similar. My agrument is not so much that isolation alone was the cause of the present divergence between the two, but rather that it was isolation combined with mixing of vocabulary from other languages. Furthermore, my argument is not that Japanese and Korean began their divergence only around 2,000 some years ago with the apparent colonization of Japan by a continental people, but rather that proto-Japanese and proto-Korean were already distinct but related tongues prior to the Yayoi people arriving in Japan, with subsequent isolation and linguistic mixing widening the gap still further.
Note that there is some similarity found between one of the ancient dialects spoken in Manchuria and Korea and old Japanese, mentioned on the page for the ancient Goguryeo kingdom. Also note that Japanese has lost three additional vowel sounds just over the course of the historical record, and might conceivably have lost final consonants sometime in the prehistoric stage. The phonetic differences are historically not so great as may initially appear when looking solely at the two modern languages.
The thrust of my argument in looking at the archaeological record is to state that the ancient Japanese were not just trading partners with the ancient Koreans, but were in fact very likely emigres from the Korean peninsula. The influx of so much continental culture over a relatively short time span would seem to indicate migration trends rather than simply trading. Should the people themselves have been from the Korean peninsula, and therefore likely speakers of some Korean-related dialect, it would go a long way to explaining the structural similarity between Japanese and Korean. Simple trading relationships are not enough to bring about the degree of similarity found between the two. Korean states have been trading with China extensively for almost the whole of the historical record, and yet Korean and Chinese remain structurally very distinct -- the former an agglutinative synthetic language with a subject-object-verb structure, marked by an omissible subject and complex honorifics following a socially hierarchical deixis, much like Japanese, and the latter a decidedly analytic language with a subject-verb-object structure and a non-omissible subject, and an apparent lack of the honorifics found in both the Japanese and Korean languages. Frankly, aside from borrowed words and the writing system, the Chinese language has about squat to do with either Korean or Japanese despite centuries of trade, which would seem to nullify the "convergence through trading contacts" hypothesis regarding grammatical structure. Ultimately, the problem would seem to come down to the fact that most trading relations are carried out by small groups of traders, envoys, and ambassadors, thus limiting inter-linguistic contact. The vast bulk of the two speaking groups in any such relation would have nothing to do with each other, much like today.
I think it's great people are interested in this issue of possible relation. Does anyone have any references that state the case for convergent as opposed to divergent evolution? I'd be interested in reading them; most of what I've read to date that touches upon potential Japanese and Korean linguistic relatedness suggests they come from similar roots, and anthropological and archaeological findings seem to back that up, but I'm open to other arguments.  :) --- Eiríkr Útlendi 08:39, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Firstly, I agree that people are interested in this issue; sadly, due to time constraints, I cannot join in to my fullest ability. Secondly, as for the topic, most Korean linguists see that the Baekje dialect, rather than the Goguryeo dialect, since the Baekje dialect seems to have similar phonetics like that of Japanese [[1]]. For instance, according to this site, Baekje words lack final consonants. Also, there seems to be cognates with the numbers: Mir (3), Ochi (5), Nanan (7). One should note that "mir" meant 3 in the Shilla dialect too [[2]]. In addition, something I forgot to mention before, most Korean historians agree that an en masse of Baekje aristocrats left Baekje for Japan as the kingdom collapsed. -- Zippie

Thank you for the links, Zippie. It's clear I need to work on my Korean!  :) There's also the overlap in the word for "water", with Goguryeo and Silla mir loosely coinciding with the modern Japanese mizu, and in the word for "bear", with Goguryeo komok and Baekje komā none too far from modern Japanese kuma. Fun food for thought.
I also did some googling today in my downtime and found a couple interesting articles. One of those is this article on the Association for Asian Research site. It's Part IV of a series about the likely origins of the modern Japanese people and language, the most pertinent piece to this discussion of language, but if anyone's interested the series starts at this link. The article addresses seem to be in sequential order; just add one to the number at the end of the link to get the next bit. For that matter, article 2352 also looks quite interesting, but I don't have time now to read it in full. Cheers, --- Eiríkr Útlendi 09:22, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I still believe that it is convergence, rather than genetic. I believe this mostly due to the unaccountable differences in phonetics. For instance, Japanese lacks consonants clusters --it does not seem to appear also Old Japanese, but I have not looked into it much. In middle Korean, there used to be even three consonant consonant cluters, both in the initial and final (i.e. dalks-bsdae meaning the hour of the rooster). There still is consonant clusters in modern Korean, but at most two in the batchim. Furthermore, Japanese totally lacks final consonants, except for the "n" final consonant. Also, some of the postpositions in modern Korean are loans, such as "ga." All of these observations lead me to conclude that it is convergence, rather than genetic, that relates Korean to Japanese. --zippie

Hi Zippie --
Interesting discussion here, thank you for participating.
Given your tantalizing links about the Baekje dialect, what of the possibility that Japanese and Korean share a genetic ancestor, such that modern Japanese and modern Korean are not directly related? If modern Korean is based largely on the Silla form of early Korean, and Japanese is not too distant (possibly) from some earlier relative of Baekje, plus likely combinations with Austronesian constructs and words (c.f. Shibatani, Masayoshi: The Languages of Japan), it would seem to suggest some genetic relation between the two, albeit quite possibly further back than we can comfortably reconstruct at present.
I'll grant that ga might be a more modern loan, though I admit I lack the historical overview of modern Korean to really know. What about e though, in terms of the directional marker --> Japanese doko e iku vs Korean ǒdi e gada? What of the extensive honorific systems present in both, both in terms of special noun forms and verb forms? What of the lexical overlap, where it can be found and shown to be not just recent borrowing (c.f. Martin, S.E.: Lexical evidence relating Japanese to Korean)? I'm not claiming that the two are sister languages by any means, simply that there's so much overlap for so long (the whole of the historic record) that I find it difficult to account for solely by means of convergence. Where I'm aware that convergence has been found, it has generally been less than would be required of a hypothesis whereby Japanese comes to resemble Korean as much as it does. Or am I mistaken? By all means reply, I find this all very interesting.  :)
Also, content-wise, is this getting long enough that we should move this discussion to a dedicated page? Cheers, --- Eiríkr Útlendi 17:56, 16 Apr 2005 (UTC)

This is an interesting discussion for me, since I've been researching possible Korean-Japanese cognate sets. Leaving aside the grammatical similarities (which are interesting, but generally involve widespread linguistic traits), and the phonological differences (which could, perhaps, be compared to the differences between, say, Italian and Russian), there are quite a number of plausible cognates among the native vocabulary of both languages. This includes a lot of basic vocabulary concerning the natural world, such as the examples mentioned by Eiríkr Útlendi above: 'bear' (Modern Korean gom: Japanese kuma) and 'water' (Modern Korean mul: Japanese mizu). Some of these words could be ancient loanwords, and even if they are the result of a genetic relationship, it could hardly be described as close. Korean and Japanese, despite being very distinct languages, may share a common origin deep in antiquity. --Chamdarae

Good point, Chamdarae. Korean /ko:m/ and Japanese /kuma/ do both happen to mean "bear," but so does Ainu /kamuj/. Korean /myr/ > /mur/ and Japanese /midu/ > /mizu/ do both mean "water," but so do Mongolian /mören/ (water; river), Manchu /mu-ke/, Finnish /vesi/, English water, etc., and Ainu has both /pet/ (river) and /pe/ (moisture, water). Even some Chinese dialects (such as that of Xi'an) pronounce the word for water (水) as /pfej/ or something similar. Even the most generous linguist can only say that the evidence for an exclusively close relationship between Korean and Japanese is very slight. Ebizur 21:10, 22 October 2006 (UTC)

Korean and Japanese show much coincidence in basic vocabularly (see Martin, 1960-s), probably about 20-30% of the standard 100-word Swadesh list (see Starostin, 1991). I don't know what you're arguing about. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:12, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

Chinese v. Japanese

As I wrote in "Hanja", most of "modern" Sino-Korean word were loaned from Japanese, technically changing their pronunciations. --Nanshu 02:05, 12 Aug 2003 (UTC)

That is not so. Most words were loaned from the Chinese pronounciation, not Japanese. - Anon

No. Few were coined in by missionaries Shanghai, but massive translation was made in Japan. Basic vocaburary like 會社, 社會, 自由, 思想, 法律, 文明, 哲學 and 民族 were coined in Japan. It is symbolic that within the official name of the People's Republic of China 中華人民共和國, 人民 (peole) and 共和國 (republic) were coined in Japan and loaned into Chinese. --Nanshu 01:38, 13 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Does it even extends to the Chinese at modern times? Because "Canada" is not Ka in Chinese (as it could), but Jia like it is in Japan. It seems like a borrowing from Japanese into Chinese. --Menchi 02:21, Aug 13, 2003 (UTC)
I'm not sure, but 加拿大 is pronounced "kanada" in Japanese. Here is a list of Sino-Japanese representations of various place names: 倫敦 (London) and 西班牙 (Spain) must have Chinese origins. --Nanshu 02:02, 14 Aug 2003 (UTC)
There were many Cantonese people worked in Canada in 19th century. 加拿大 is exactly Ka Na Tai in Cantonese langugage. — HenryLi (Talk) 16:46, 30 January 2006 (UTC)
"Canada" is never written fully in Hanja in Korean. The Hangul 캐나다 (or more rarely 카나다) is used instead. However, when using Hanja as an abbreviation for the country (like 美 for the US or 獨 for Germany), Koreans use 加 ("ga") for Canada—at least partly because there are no Hanja pronounced 카. --Sewing 20:19, 12 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I heard Korean nationalists are irritated at irregular proper names like Dogil (독일) and Pullanseo (불란서). 獨逸 is "doitsu" and 彿蘭西 is "furansu" in Japanese but they don't fit for Korean pronunciation. --Nanshu 03:44, 13 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Nanshu: if—like you think—Koreans got all their modern character usage from Japan, why do they call the USA "Miguk" with a 美 (like the Chinese) and not with a 米 (like the Japanese)? And of course Koreans wouldn't say "doitsu" or "furansu" since they have their own pronunciations for the characters, Nanshu! Anyhow, while Koreans say "Dogil" for Germany, they do not call France "Bullanseo" but rather Peurangseu (프랑스), which when pronounced sounds quite close to the French pronunciation, except for the initial "P." But the abbreviation for France is "Bul" (불; 佛) --Sewing 19:32, 13 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I see the above post is really old, but in case anybody reads this, I think I've read somewhere that Japan officials changed the spelling of America for the Japanese language from 美 to 米 as the first character (beautiful country → rice country) in the period of Expansionism out of Anti-American sentiment. – Wikipeditor 12:28, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

Not all, of course. I just let you know that people had the assumption that place names must have been written in Chinese characters regardless of what Hangul nationalists think. --Nanshu 04:07, 14 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I must add that very few Sino-Korean forms are used for place names outside the Chinese sphere nowadays. The few that remain in common usage are due to their conciseness. Compare "Dogil 獨逸" with "Doichillanteu 도이칠란트", a difference of two vs five syllables. It is the same with "Miguk 美國" vs "Amerika 아메리카", "Yeongguk 英國" vs "Dae Beuriteun 대 브리튼 (Great Britain, which Yeongguk designates)" or "Inggeullaendeu 잉글랜드 (England, the source of the Sino-Korean form)", "Hoju 濠洲" vs "Oseuteureillia 오스트레일리아 (Australia)". These forms survived for their conciseness, useful especially for headline writers who could represent a country with a single Chinese character (another example would be 伊 for Italy, although Koreans say Itallia). Note that careful usage prefers "Oseuteureillia" for Australia (this is the form that will appear in encyclopedia entries, for example), and "Doichillanteu" is used to a lesser extent for Germany. "Yeongguk" and "Miguk" are used almost exclusively.

Nanshu, from the list on the link you provided, the average Korean would recognise, beside the ones already mentioned, 印度 for India, 西班牙 for Spain (although he would use Seupein or Eseupanya, 泰 for Thailand (although he would always say 泰國 or use the form 타이 Tai), plus the forms for Vietnam and Mongolia. I think at least some of these forms are Chinese in origin. He may also recognise the forms for the Netherlands, California, and Austria (and find them vaguely amusing), and is likely to recognise the first character at least for the names of Asia, Africa, and Europe (as they are often used in newspaper headlines). My guess though is that such knowledge will become more and more esoteric as the younger generation is further removed from the generation that received knowledge of the outside world through Japan or China. --Iceager 07:52, 13 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Nanshu, you are so anti-Korean that you even don't stand up for Chinese issues such as the Diaoyu Islands. --Zippie

Well, I am quite surprised that Nanshu's claim is not accepted here. I am a native Korean and I've learnt it from my history class that most "modern" words (i.e., scientific terms, social science concept words, the names of European countries) were borrowed directly from Japan or indirectly through China which borrowed the words from Japan earlier than Korea. This is because Japan had been modernized before Korea or China. During westernization, the Japanese scholars had to translate european words into their language. Being educated men, they chose to use Hanja (or Kanji) characters to convey advanced concepts. When the burden of translation turned to Korean or Chinese scholars, they simply borrowed Sino-Japanese terms. Why bother to invent another word if there's already a word of the same meaning in familiar Chinese charaters? I don't know why Nanshu brought this issue in the first place, but the fact is fact. -- Anon

Many of the "modern" (or "Western") concepts were in fact translated first into "Chinese" terms by Japanese scholars in late 19th/early 20th centuries. It's not so much that direct loanwords from Chinese came to Korea via Japan, but simply that Japanese modernizers created much of the "Chinese" terms for these ideas (for much of East Asia)--e.g. "science," "economics," "rights," "democracy," and so forth. Since these terms are, however, very recent in origin, the same should not be said of historic development of the languages. --h27kim Mar 27, 2007 4:59am (PST)

Even though Koreans don't depend on Chinese characters like Japanese. Koreans do know how to read and write " Traditional" Chinese characters unlike ( Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese). All three Chinese character users use " Modified" Chinese characters. Many of Chinese scholars and Chinese students cannot read traditional Chinese characters. So the Chinese Professors or Scholars sends all traditional Chinese writing materials to Korean Scholars to translate. It's a big business. Chinese invented " Traditional" Chinese characters but they cannot read it or understand it like Koreans. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Bostonjj (talkcontribs) 00:59, 22 February 2008 (UTC)

Anon vandalism

Anon user changed the number of Korean speakers from 78 million to 180 million without citing a source for the change. The 78 million number comes from the Ethnologue report linked at the bottom of the page [3]. It's entirely possible the Ethnologue numbers are wrong (it cites a date of 1999 for that number, 5 years ago), but this new number 180 million seems like too big of a jump. South Korea gives 48 million for the population and North Korea gives 22 million for the population, leaving about 8 million Korean speakers outside of Korea, for a total of 78 million, which seems reasonable. 180 million, OTOH, seems to have emerged from nowhere. I'm reverting for now. Nohat 22:27, 2004 Apr 6 (UTC)

LOL. Maybe it was a typo for 80 million... That's the estimate found in [4], which includes a breakdown by country as well. I'm not sure how much to trust the numbers for Korean speakers of the former Soviet Union though. Most of them have lost Korean but still identify themselves as Korean speakers. The Korean they do speak is very different from the Korean spoken in North and South Korea, being influenced by Russian and other languages. One of these days I'll get around to writing an article about the Korean language spoken by these people... --Iceager 21:28, 13 Apr 2004 (UTC)


Doesn't linguists count Gangwon-mal as a dialect? It seems somewhat different from others in vocabulary, etc. --PuzzletChung @DATE@

You are right. How could people in Yeongdong speak with the same dialect as people in Seoul? I will fix this. --Sewing 17:10, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)


Current text: Derived from ollida is the noun ollim, which is the humble form of seonmul ("gift").

I have never heard the noun ollim being used with this meaning (I am a native Korean speaker). The Korean dictionaries I've consulted do not give this definition either. I am inclined to think this is a mistaken statement, and will delete it unless people object. --Iceager 07:22, 12 May 2004 (UTC)
Deleted. --Iceager 09:30, 16 May 2004 (UTC)
But what about "올림이야," as said by a nephew to me? Don't 올리다 and 드리다 have similar meanings? --Sewing 17:10, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)


My ears pick up some sort of phonetic change that happens in the word /ilgop/ meaning "seven". The /i/ sounds somehow different, perhaps rounded or close central? Is there a rule to explain this change?--Sonjaaa 19:00, Aug 19, 2004 (UTC)

Phonetic changes before or after other sounds are universal. For example, the /I/ sound in German <ich>, <in>, <Fisch>, <Schiff> might differ between these four words. While I don't know about <ilgop> in particular, I don't think we should mention it if it's merely one of those phonetic universals. – Wikipeditor 21:41, 23 November 2005 (UTC)

Vowel harmony

I think we need to beef up vowel harmony in the Korean language. Toktok sounds cute but tuktuk sounds crude. Saljjak sounds diminuitive but seuljjuk sounds mischievious.

  • o, a sound cute
  • u, eo sound crude
  • eu is neutral, more or less

Traditionally, o and a tend to appear together, and u and eo form a pair too. This is particularly evident in onomatopoeia.

i and ae sound diminuitive because they're front vowels, but I don't know if it's just me. I'm not too sure about e, ye, or yae either. Kjoonlee 09:29, 2004 Dec 6 (UTC)

Vowel harmony in Korean:

(From Unilang) "The Korean language has three kinds of vowels - Positive (ㅏ, ㅗ), Neutral (ㅣ, ㅡ), and Negative (ㅓ, ㅜ).... In modern Korean, vowel harmony rule is no longer generally obeyed, and it appears in only certain kinds of words; words with negative vowels stress the meaning.

Bezant 09:36, 2005 Feb 24 (ETS)

I agree with Kjoonlee that more needs to done on Korean vowel harmony. I have now noticed that someone has removed the vowel harmony section altogether. What a pity! Yes, there is something on this under vowel harmony, but on this page (Korean language) any reference or link has ceased to exist.

Ebrownless 22:29, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

Help with language display

I see only question marks where I think Hangul characters should be, using firefox, and squares when I use IE. Can someone explain how to correct this, preferably in firefox?

At least some of the squares may represent IPA characters. The answer to this is that the article needs to be upgraded to use the IPA template around the IPA transcriptions. For instance, without the template: tʰɛˈjaŋ - with the template tʰɛˈjaŋ. I may get round to doing this, unless someone else would like to. :) rossb 13:09, 24 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Korean language

The Total Korean language population should be updated.

Total Korean speaking population is 85-87 million. 73 or 75 million mark is outdated that was (Year 1999). —Preceding unsigned comment added by Korea4one (talkcontribs) 07:20, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

In the text of the article Koreans, it is said that there are around 70 million Korean speakers of the Korean language. In the table in the article Koreans, it states that 71 million Koreans speak the Korean language. In the article Korean language, it says that there are, in total, 78 million speakers of the Korean language. Does that mean that there are 7 million non-Korean Korean language speakers in the world? - 01:48, 1 Apr 2005 (UTC)

There are Koreans living outside Korea too... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:28, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

Korean script vs writing system

Unless someone has substantive objections, I propose collapsing sections 2 and 10 into one -- section 10 Writing System has more info, but section 2 Script pretty much just seems to overlap the info in 10. --- Eiríkr Útlendi 03:10, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Given the absence of any dissenting opinions, I have collapsed the two, moving the content from Script into Writing System and adjusting to fit. --- Eiríkr Útlendi 06:03, 18 Apr 2005 (UTC)


Does anyone know any references on reduplication in Korean? I can think of:

  • 어디 (eodi) where vs. 어디어디 (eodieodi) in which places
  • Onomatopoeic adjectives/adverbs. Sometimes optional, sometimes not.

Lenis/fortis consonants

I've noticed that you're using the IPA character for ejective consonants for the so-called "tensed" plosives. I read the Korean phonology written by Hyun Bok Lee in the IPA Handbook, and he's describing these quite differently. Instead of "tensed", which is not really any standard phonetic terminology, these phonemes are described as voiceless unaspirated lenis plosives and instead of the ejective characters b, d, g, ɟ/ are used. The same description is used for the two "s"-phonemes, and the characters used are /s, z/. The allophones of these sounds changes depending on phonotactic context, but syllable-inititally, they following character are used [b̥, d̥, g̥, ɟ̥, z̥] (they don't work in all browser configurations).

The non-standard terminology used in this article is explained in the following way:

"The symbol ʼ is used to denote the tensed consonants ([pʼ], [tʼ], [cʼ], [kʼ], and [sʼ]) but its official IPA usage is for ejective consonants, which the tensed stops in Korean are not. The tensed stops are produced with a partially constricted glottis and additional subglottal pressure. However, it may be argued that such a manner of articulation can still be categorized as glottalization, justifying the use of ʼ."

This seems very confusing to me. To describe these lenis plosives and fricatives as something similar to ejective plosives seems awfully tentative. I have listened to plenty fo samples of ejective as well as lenis plosives as spoken by native speakers, and even as a layman they sound very different from one another. I would recommend using the IPA characters as they were intended by the IPA rather than borrowing them to use in this very non-standard fashion. Add to this the fact that the allophones of the "tensed plosives" often are just as your average English [z], [g] or [d] and you get one very confusing terminology.

Peter Isotalo 19:25, May 8, 2005 (UTC)

I'm not sure they're "lenis" either (which by the way is another term "which is not really any standard phonetic terminology", since "tensed" is just layman talk for "fortis", which is itself ill defined), but I'm making the change. The ejective symbol is just utterly wrong. Better to use Ladefoged's asterisk: [p*, t*, k*, s*]. At least using a voiceless symbol on a voiced letter (or, perhaps, a voice symbol on a voiceless letter?) will make people scratch their head and read the description. There's been a lot of argument about what's really going on with these sounds (no one can even agree on whether they're lenis or fortis, though they seem fortis to me), so don't expect this to end the debate! kwami 08:47, 2005 May 14 (UTC)
Just looked at the IPA Handbook, and we got their account backwards: it is the "lenis" alveolar (Hangul d) that is transcribed /d/ and [d̥], while the "fortis" ("tense") alveolar (Hangul tt) is transcribed /t/. I was puzzled why they would use the under-ring for "tense", since that would be equivalent to slack voice. They don't: they use it to mean tenuis. Therefore the expected IPA usage of the under-wedge (for stiff voice) is not out of sync with the Handbook. Of course, it's another question whether the 'tense' obstruents are actually 'stiff voice'. kwami 11:41, 2005 Jun 22 (UTC)

All I've heard is that there's an ongoing discussion about whether doen sori consonants are lenis or fortis among linguists/phoneticians, so why present either of them as fact? – Wikipeditor 19:15, 11 November 2005 (UTC)

And is there any correlation between the "doubled" Hangul consonants and gemination? Cheers, Eiríkr Útlendi 16:22, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

Spacing and Punctuation.

Can anyone tell me more about spacing? I read here that every word is supposed to be seperated by a space, but often I see things like “을”이 or 중도금(기성), where you'd expect spaces between the quotes/parentheses and the next letter/word (or you'd expect them to be within the quotes/parentheses). Any ideas?

Also, I've seen Japanese-style quotes alongside English-style. Should this be included in the article?

I don't see any justification for setting a space between a quote closing and the la.ko following it, or between a word and parentheses that contain the phrase's hanja, a clarification, description, translation or similar information. Putting a space to the left of parentheses will look particularly bad if there is a particle such as nun or un, as this particle is customarily written to the right of the closing parenthese.
As most Korean fonts' parentheses etc. come with some built-in blank space, inserting a real space would detach too much. – Wikipeditor 12:53, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

It is because of the grammar of Korean language. Let me take the example provided in Korean language#Grammar:

가게에 가세요?
*store-to *going?
Are you going to store?

We attatch modifiers after 가게("store") to specify whether the store is the destination or depature, -에 and -에서 respectively. Note that they are affixes and can't form a word by themselves. 가게 certainly is a word by itself, but we don't separate 가게 and 에 with a space.

Let's use a pair of parentheses to describe the store is Wal-Mart:

가게(월마트)에 가세요?

Because the word in parentheses is to describe 가게, not affix -에, parentheses should be placed in between, and not be separated by space as well. Same rule with the quotation:

그는 "네"라고 대답했다.
*he *"yes"-like *replied.
He replied, "yes."

where -라고 is an affix and should be attached to the quotation.

Because no space is indended, it is usual for Korean fonts to have not much space around parentheses.

--Puzzlet Chung 07:03, 30 September 2005 (UTC)

Concering IPA

Korean language have consonant allophones, one of which is recorded on the article but others not:

And pronunciations ㅈ and ㅊ are generally perceived as [ʦ], not [c], and [ʣ] is an allophone.

--Puzzlet Chung 06:04, 8 Jun 2005 (UTC)


I'm not a linguist, but what an impressive article. If some references (and possibly an image or two) we added, it would surely stand a good chance of becoming a featured article. -- ALoan (Talk) 09:21, 22 Jun 2005 (UTC)


This article has been nominated as a possible Collaboration of the Month on WP:Korea. If you would like to see it improved, please cast your vote here.

Goguryeo, Silla, and Tamil

Bezant twice deleted my comment

More recent is the idea that the language of Goguryeo was unrelated to Silla Korean, but was instead ancestral to Japanese,

most recently with the comment

(Note: no evidence and there are a lot of cognates between the languages of Shilla and Goguryeo)

However, in some analyses, the Silla-Goguryeo cognates are thought to be borrowings. That is referenced in Beckwith, who is the principal proponent of the Goguryeo-Japanese connection. An abstract of his talk at the upcoming 13th Japanese/Korean Linguistics Conference is available here.

Bezant has also removed my comments on why 19th-century links to Dravidian are doubtful, so I'll replay them here: the typological similarities are shared to various degrees by half the world's languages (they're correlated with verb-final word order), and so are not significant. He also mentions some look-alike words, such as '"Nal" means "day" in both Tamil and Korean', but these are much too similar to be anything but coincidence at these time depths (like English two and Korean tul, or English much and Spanish mucho). There's a reason why this wasn't taken seriously in the 20th century. Both these ideas deserve mention, but with reservations. kwami 05:58, 2005 July 15 (UTC)

It is up to the readers to decide if the connexion between Dravidian and Korean is "doubtful." Also, it is traditionally accepted that there is some relationship between Goguryeo and Shilla; to say that there is absolutely no evidence is bit loft, considering the similarities in their cultures. For instance, native geographical names known from Shilla and Goguryeo have a common trait; that is, the heavy use of metal names. One must also take in account cultures into their linguistic analysis. You should also read the discussion above between the similiarities between Korean and Japanese. Bezant

Then change my wording to be less biased, but don't remove the point entirely. In order for readers to decide if the connection has merit, they need to know why some consider it to be doubtful. Merely listing a bunch of competing claims just results in confusion. Many or most readers will not have the background in typology for such things to be obvious. For each of the proposed connections, we should have the arguments for, and the arguments against. If you wish to give the arguments against the Dravidian hypothesis, great (perhaps you'll do better than me); otherwise I'll put it back in, trying to be less sure of myself this time. kwami 21:48, 2005 July 15 (UTC)

Agreed. Bezant

I think the current description of the relationship between Dravidian and Korean as "speculatory" is being WAY too polite. The relationship is extremely doubtful and not taken seriously by anyone except crack pots. The idea that somehow the Dravidian ethnic group could possibly exert any influence on the Korean language and the Korean people who are buffered by vast physical and cultural barriers is completely improbable. Kwami, please put some of your claims back on the page. Sour pickle 21:54, 24 September 2005 (UTC)

Yes, you could probably find claims that it's Algonkian if you ignored the 20th century. I just deleted the Dravidian claim altogether. It's not worth saving. Bezant is probably the only person alive who supports it. kwami 00:43, 25 September 2005 (UTC)
You should put it back. I found it interesting. Didn't you ever hear Heo Hwang-ok--Dangerous-Boy 09:15, 22 October 2005 (UTC)

Indeed. While Sour Pickle has a point about the distance between the two geographic regions, it is worth noting that humans are a particularly mobile species on this planet. Given some evidence that the Tocharians of far-west China were likely part of the Indo-European linguistic grouping, and given that, though the Taklamakan is quite some ways from Ireland, Gaelic and Tocharian would thus be related languages, I'd have to say the door to some Dravidian-Korean connection is still open, if only slightly. That Heo Hwang-ok article does contain some interesting tidbits.

If anyone has some time in London, there are a number of interesting items on exhibit at either the British Museum or the Victoria and Albert Museum (can't remember for sure which one, it's been a while). Of particular note in relation to the topic of human mobility, I saw a most eye-catching wooden sarcophagus marked as belonging to some mid-level government official of Assyria from around 1000 AD, if memory serves. The fascinating thing was that the sarcophagus lid was extensively inscribed with Norse runes. Seems the Vikings were popular bodyguards for a while in that part of the world.

My point is that just because the modern-day distributions of Dravidian-language and Korean-language speakers are not now in proximity doesn't mean a whole lot. I can move to Mongolia tomorrow, but I'm still my parents' child. Does anyone have any archaeological references for where Korean speakers and Dravidian speakers have been in the past? Any record of migrations?

Cheers, Eiríkr Útlendi 21:36, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

Collaboration of the Month

This article is the August 2005 Collaboration of the Month for Korea-related topics. Let's make it FA-worthy! -- Visviva 11:39, 6 August 2005 (UTC)


한글     Alt.    Cur.    aeoeui

아       a       =       a-
야       ya      =       ya-
와       wa      =       wa-

애       aj      ae      a-e-
얘       yaj     yae     ya-e-
왜       waj     wae     wa-e-

어       e       eo      e-o-
여       ye      yeo     ye-o-
워       we      wo      wo-

에       ej      e       e-
예       yej     ye      ye-
웨       wej     we      we-

오       o       =       o-
요       yo      =       yo-
외       wo/oj   oe      o-e-

우       u       =       u-
유       yu      =       yu-
위       wu/uj   wi      wi-

으       y-      eu      e-u-
이       i       =       i-
의       wi/yi   ui      u-i-

The Korean character set really worth the World Heritage was deviced almost six hundred years ago by the most scientific minds, which has been romanized by the least scientific. They apparently wished it to look or sound like English that is most irregular. But they succeeded at the cost of shattering the perfect regularity of Korean character set. What is worst is that the resulting romanization system cannot unambiguously make sense of the vowel string, say, "aeoeui," which should be demarcated and disambiguated as appropriate as "ae-o-eu-i" or "a-eo-e-ui" for example. Such a demarcated string would least look like Enblish or any other Western language. The alternative proposed above could rule out all ambiguity in any vowel string without demarcation but for /y/ in need of special care. Isn't it great? --Ishiakkum 04:54, 23 August 2005 (UTC)

One more thing seriously taken here is that Korean is Korean that need not look or sound like any other language. What used to trouble us is which /e/ should be, /ㅓ/ or /ㅔ/? It should be /ㅓ/ to be more faithful to Korean, while /ㅔ/ to European. But note this is a matter of Korean language IN order! --Ishiakkum 05:21, 23 August 2005 (UTC)

I don't like the new romanization either, but the purpose was not to create a new orthography for Korean, but to create something that foreigners (read "English speakers") with no knowledge of Korean could easily handle. That is, something to put on English-language maps, street signs, touristy stuff. Anyone who actually wants to use Korean will just use hangul and ignore the romanization, so being faithful to the structure of the language was not a priority. At least it's an improvement over Wade-Guiles. kwami 04:56, 2005 August 31 (UTC)
My wife, a former Peace Corps language teacher, can teach any English speaker hangul in a half-hour - I've seen her do it. Why romanize? --Dan 18:44, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

vowel chart

It would be helpful if the Korean vowels (in 한굴) were placed on an additional chart. In spite of my linguistics training, I still find IPA hard to hear. See

foreign names in N vs. S

Someone wrote,

When transcribing foreign words with aspirated stops, North Koreans use tensed stops while South Koreans use aspirated stops.

with 'Cuba' as the example. However, 'Cuba' does not have an aspirated stop. At least not in Spanish, and the Korean vowel shows that it is the Spanish pronunciation that is being transcribed. kwami 01:44, 2005 September 8 (UTC)

In general, where South Korea would use ㅋ or other aspirated consonants in a transliteration, North Korea tends to use ㄲ or the corresponding tensed consonants instead. So I think that's what the user was trying to express, but just didn't happen to know that in the word "Cuba", it is not an aspirated stop (and nor did I). -- KittySaturn 14:23:35, 2005-09-10 (UTC)

Languages of the Three Kingdoms, and relations

How were the languages of the Three Kingdoms of Korea related to each other, and what is their supposed relationship to modern Korean and Japanese. Wikipedia doesn't seem to be particularly clear on this subject.

Short answer: What I've heard is that Goguryeo's language was 부여, Silla (and probably Gaya) had languages, and, quoting myself from the Baekje article, "[t]wo languages were spoken in Baekje. It seems that a group of Fuyu/Buyeo language speakers whose ancestors had left Goguryeo to establish the early Baekje states (see here) ruled over a population of indigenous Han language speakers." Fuyu being the language group of migration waves from the north, and Han being the group of the peninsular South or even of migration from further South, they were not mutually intelligible and unrelated to each other. Over the centuries, they merged into what is now Korean only after the 4 states period. You still have different 지명 styles in the north and south on accounta Fuyu and Han. Unfortunately we have little to no samples of the northern language(s), and I think Jared Diamond actually maintains that Goguryeo and Japanese languages are closely related to each other (haven't read his book, though). Hope this helps~ Wikipeditor 19:27, 11 November 2005 (UTC)
Please forget what I said about the (suggested, disputed, etablished – choose one) Han language(s) possibly originating from further south. Upon asking about it, I learned that the Han are indeed related to the (suggested, disputed, etablished – choose one) Fuyu languages. Han language seems to have arrived with a migration wave (also from the north) that entered the peninsular south before Fuyu language migration arrived. Wikipeditor 21:30, 23 November 2005 (UTC)

like i said in the baekje talk page, i understand scholars know very little about these languages. even the fuyu group theory is very speculative, although it seems a reasonable guess. i've read the languages of the 3 kingdoms varied or were dialects or thought to be similar, but not that they were mutually unintelligible & unrelated. Appleby 06:09, 12 November 2005 (UTC)


Would it sound odd to translate 국어/gugeo as "domestic language" rather than "national language" when a Korean in Korea is referring to the Korean language in Korea? – Wikipeditor 19:19, 11 November 2005 (UTC)

It would to me. I tend to think of 국어 as similar to 우리말 -- thus most idiomatically rendered as something like "our language" or "our country's language." "Domestic language" is perfectly correct, I think, but it does sound odd. -- Visviva 13:10, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

Similarities between Teochew (dialect) and Korean

English language adopted many vocabulary words from Latin, Greek, French and German. Korean language adopted many vocabulary words from Chinese and western words.

Language is formed by exchanging or interacting with people. Korean language adopted Chinese vocabulary words by cultural exchange and wars. Korean language do not rely on Chinese or Chinese character for daily Korean life. This is what most suprising thing about Korean language they are able to use all loan words in Korean alphabet " Hangul" not Chinese characters which is very complicated language to write. Chinese characters are very time consuming language. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Korea4one (talkcontribs) 07:33, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

Personally, I myself have observed that the Korean language pronounces many words that almost matches with how the Minnan Teochew dialect pronounces each word. For I myself a Singaporean, Teochew, and many Singaporeans who know Korean (they learnt it through courses) as well as Teochew agree with my point. I know little Korean, but I have heard it from Korean dramas. These words are:

  • 香 Korean: Hyang; Teochew: Hiang
  • 熙 Korean: Heui; Teochew: Hee
  • 喜歡 Korean: Heui (?); Teochew: Hîn huaⁿ
  • 學生 Korean: Hak-sehng; Teochew: Hâk Seng


Can anyone help me add into the wikipedia article, or explain such mysterious connections? I don't know how to edit in the proper orientation. Thanks. Mr Tan 12:03, 27 November 2005 (UTC)

I am no expert, but let me try an explanation. These words are all Sino-Korean words, so the explanation involves the Korean pronunciation of hanja. The explanation at the hanja article is not very satisfactory, so I'll expand on this. Chinese writing was introduced to Korea during the Han dynasty, presumably along with the associated Chinese sound values for the characters. I forget what scholars have proposed for the time period and region for the Chinese pronunciation that the Korean sound values were based upon; I'll have to look up the references. In any case, that was more than a thousand years ago, and sound changes occurred in both languages since.
Since then, Korean has preserved the original pronunciations pretty well apart from some vowel simplifications and the dropping of tones, which are not used in Korean. Chinese dialects tended to go through different sorts of sound changes at different rates. Mandarin, for example, lost many syllable-final consonants that were pronounced in older forms of Chinese, and went through some consonant shifts that distanced its pronunciation from Korean hanja pronunciation. Cantonese, for example, was better than Mandarin at preserving syllable-final consonants, although its sound changes distanced it from both Mandarin and Korean hanja pronunciation. Teochew, it seems, was either as conservative as Korean in the preservation of original pronunciation, or went through similar sound changes as Korean hanja pronunciation, resulting in the similarities you observed. The phenomenon of a language more faithfully retaining the original forms of borrowings than the languages that provided the borrowings is not rare. Finnish, a language totally unrelated to Germanic languages, has many Germanic loanwords that are much closer to the original Germanic forms than the cognates in modern Germanic languages.
You might also want to look at the article on General Chinese. The idea behind it is that most of the differences in pronunciation among Chinese dialects and non-Chinese pronunciation of Chinese characters come from regular sound changes. --Iceager 02:53, 28 November 2005 (UTC)

Teochew is a relatively remote language. Furthermore, the Chaozhou region is so far from Korea, and Koreans settling in Chaozhou is miniscule, counting the hundreds of years that have passed. Co-incidence can't be too frequently seen; if so, there must be an alien connection to the reason of such similar changes. The Teochew dialect is pronounced with a nasal tone, but Korean uses the lungs to produce a rather harsh tone, somewhat like Japanese and Mongolian, I believe.

Mandarin is relatively closer to Korean, than Teochew to Korean by geographical location, yet Teochew pronounces many phrases that Koreans do but not Mandarin. However, Korean and Min Teochew is still relatively too far to be considered as part of the same linguistic family.

Anyway, it is an interesting phnomenon, really. I hope that linguistists will search into such cases. Thanks! Mr Tan 04:38, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

There is no mystery here. Again, Korean is not at all related to any Chinese language, being from a completely different language family, like English or Swahili. The only connection between Korean and Chinese is that Korean absorbed large amounts of Chinese vocabulary more than 1000 years ago, preserving the old Chinese pronunciations of those words. Korean probably imported these words from northern dialects, but northern dialects like Mandarin went through pretty dramatic sound changes since then, so southern languages like Teochew which went through less changes sound relatively closer to Sino-Korean in pronunciation. This has nothing to do with linguistic affinity.
An imperfect analogy is maybe between the resemblance between English and Swedish. English is a West Germanic language, and so is German. Swedish is a North Germanic language. So English is closer to German in terms of kinship. But German, especially High German, went through dramatic sound shifts that altered its consonant sounds in a way that many cognates between English and German came to be pronounced quite differently, e.g. apple vs apfel, two vs zwei. Swedish didn't go through such sound shifts, so its corresponding word (äpple, två) sounds closer to English, although English is not actually that closely related to Swedish. This is an imperfect analogy because English is actually related to Swedish if you go far enough back, so pretend that instead of English, a completely unrelated language like, say Mayan, picks up a lot of proto-West-Germanic words from the time before the High German sound shift. Now in the centuries since then, Mayan hasn't gone through such dramatic sound shifts, while German has, so the original Germanic words that Mayan picked up sound quite differently today from today's German. But since Swedish hasn't gone through such sound shifts either, Mayan sounds quite close to Swedish, which is quite remote and has not had any historical contacts with Mayan speakers. Such is the relationship, if it can be called that, between Korean and Teochew. (This is just a hypothetical example to illustrate the relationship between Korean and the Chinese languages; I'm not saying that Mayan actually borrowed from proto-West-Germanic.) --Iceager 06:03, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

I don't know anything about this other than a random tidbit from a Chinese-speaking friend: his claim was that T'ang poetry reads a lot better in Fujian dialect than in standard Mandarin today because Chinese languages have been increasingly migrating southward--e.g. the language today spoken in Fujian would be a lot closer to the northern dialects of the 8th century than the present day Mandarin. Since Chinese characters (and their pronunciations) arrived in Korea a long time ago (I'm a little hesitant to say when the pronunciations became standardized--I always thought that didn't take place until about 8th century or so--but I could be badly mistaken), could it be that the variant of Chinese that impacted Korean pronunciation of Chinese characters have more in common with southern Chinese dialects than the modern Mandarin?

h27kim 05:10, March 27, 2007 (pst)


could someone explain why korean has two sets of numbers? (hana, dul, set... vs. il, i, sam...)

is it like japanese, where one is a "native" pronunciation and the other is derived from chinese? which ones are used in which contexts?

yes, try Korean numerals Appleby 05:04, 19 December 2005 (UTC)

Bilabial h?

User Kwamikagami has questioned that "h" is bilabial before "o" or "u" (this edit [5]), commenting that it needs verification. Below is the sentence in the article concerned:

/h/ becomes 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.

It is my impression that something like 호 or 후 is not pronounced with the bilabial [ɸ] (i.e. narrowing your lips to make a sound similar to English "f" and the same as the initial consonant of Japanese ふ), while the rest of the sentence is correct. Any comments? -- KittySaturn 16:44, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

That's also my perception. Even when it comes to hangulized Japanese... for example, I have never heard a Korean pronounce 후쿠오카 as anything but "Hukuoka." However, there may be some bilabialization going on below my threshold of awareness. I don't have any authoritative references at hand. -- Visviva 18:51, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
I second Visviva. On another note, I have always been under the impression that e.g. the first sound in 횡성 and 휘경 is ʍ (as opposed to ɸ) at least with younger speakers of the Seoul dialect, but I guess that's as disputed as whether to transcribe the sound of as ʌ, ɤ, ɑ, ɔ or ə (Koreans seem to use ə a lot although IMHO it doesn't resemble the German ə at all. Do you think this is from 's use to replace the similar-looking ɚ in English words?), not to mention that of .—Wikipeditor 23:09, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

Morangmorak vs. Morakmorak: Phonetics vs. Morphology in RR

Hangul is basically phonemic, but it's also morphophonemic a lot of the time. Meanwhile, Revised Romanization (RR) is phonemic too, but it's close to phonetic at times. I think I originally wrote 모락모락 as morakmorak, hilighting the underlying morphology; it was later changed to morangmorak, according to the basic rules of RR.

Well, if I remember correctly, RR does have provisions for phonemic or morphophonemic descriptions, and scholars actually take advantage of it; articles in journals of linguistics sometimes use RR to describe Korean, writing "hagessda" (instead of "hagetda") for "하겠다."

Likewise, one can argue that RR allows writing 모락모락 as morakmorak instead of morangmorak, since we're dealing with linguistics here at Wikipedia. --KJ 07:15, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

Actually, the correct RR morphophonemic transcription would be "molagmolag". As you can see, this results in a romanisation that veers quite far from the actual pronunciation, and it could cause some confusion. So we should be careful about introducing this method. --Iceager 11:15, 28 February 2006 (UTC)
Let's not make up our own romanization rules (at least not without telling the reader about it). I suggest that in cases where you feel that the Ministry of Culture's normal revised romanisation (morangmorak) or transliteration (molagmolag) rules of 2000 would not yield good results, try Yale instead, and perhaps leave a note close to the romanisation saying that you did so, like “모락모락 (Yale: molak.molak)” —Wikipeditor 14:24, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

The need to mark syllabic division in the romanization of syllabic languages

As probably all of you know, Korean is an entirely syllabic language. The native writing systems for Japanese and Cherokee are, for the most part, also syllabic. But, unlike Korean, the latter two languages also include independent consonants, i.e., nonsyllabic characters:

Japanese: /n/ ⇒ ん (in Hiragana) and ン (in Katakana)
Cherokee: /s/ ⇒ Ꮝ

The existence of nonsyllabic characters does not negate the syllabicity of their respective writing systems, but it does affect the way lexemes are dealt with in terms of syllabic division. Towit, these extra characters, as phonemic as they may be, are never considered syllables and must therefore be part of a syllable. So, a Japanese expression such as『すみません』, though it contains five characters, is made up of only four syllables: su¹mi²ma³sen⁴, the 'n' being part of the last syllable. In addition, the Japanese Hiragana and Katakana (henceforth H/K) writing systems also employ characters which indicate vowel lengthening (H/K: ー, after あ/ア, え/エ, い/イ, & う/ウ; and H/K: う/ウ, after お/オ) and consonantal doubling (H/K: っ/ッ). These factors make syllabic analysis more challenging and less a matter of merely counting the number of characters. However, syllabic division is much less challenging in H/K than it is in Romaji.
In regard to syllabification among writing systems, the most straightforward method by far is 㲢굴. When written, it is always clear to which syllable a certain phoneme belongs; if only because each syllable is written as one character. This is analagous to several boxes which each contain unique objects. It is obvious in which box an object is located: one need simply look in the box! Although, if the boxes contain many objects and are placed side-by-side, some of the objects may lean into other boxes. And such is the case with the pronunciation of Korean. Assimilation, coalescence, fusion, etc. are found in virtually every language. But these are only epiphenomena and should not be considered independent linguistic occurrences. In Korean the syllables remain the same and are never written conjunctively. In light of this fact, the insularity of each syllable must be given special attention.
For sake of clarity and comprehension, I have devised and use a special method of romanization for 㲢굴, wherein the name of the native writing system of Korean would itself be spelt han.gŭl. As you can see, it is based largely on the familiar McCune-Reischauer and Revised Romanization conventions. The main differences, of course, being that, whereas McR & RR both reflect certain aspects of pronunciation (somewhat like the Hepburn system does with Romaji), the system I use maintains 100% consistency among graphemic representation, i.e., the spelling does not reflect pronunciation, so the phonemes are invariable and are transliterated accordingly. The other glaring difference in this system is that it uses dots which clearly mark syllabic division. At first, this system may seem a bit daunting or jarring but it is straightforward and is beneficial in at least two ways:
1) It is always clear as to which component each letter is representing:

북쪽 is rendered "bug.jjog" instead of the usual "puktch'ok" or "pukchchok".
b = ㅂ\
u = ㅜ   →       북
g = ㄱ/
new syllable = .
jj = ㅾ\
o = ㅗ   →       쪽
g = ㄱ/

2) There is no ambiguity over syllabic division:

#안개 = an.gæ '''not''' angae
just as,
an.gæ = 안개 '''not''' 앙애 or 앙아에 or 안가에
#전역 = jŏn.yŏg '''not''' cheonyeok
jŏn.yŏg = 전역 '''not''' 저년 or 처녘 or 천옄 (and ''definitely'' not 체온예옼)

Again, this method may seem odd at first, but it does provide disambiguation and consistent spelling. Furthermore, it allows readers familiar with written Korean to be able to transcribe into han.gŭl from the romanization, which is an asset altogether missing from many transliteration systems in general.
The orthographic conventions used herein are mostly familiar, those that differ significantly will be followed by an explanation in parentheses which will give the traditional spelling to which it corresponds, here indicated by the word pro, (from Latin prō, "for" or "instead of"):

a, æ (''pro'' ae), e, i, o, ŏ (''pro'' eo), u, ŭ (''pro'' eu)
oi (''pro'' oe), ŭi (''pro'' eui)
wa, wæ (''pro'' wae), we, wi, wŏ (''pro'' weo), ya, yæ (''pro'' yae)
ye, yo, yŏ (''pro'' yeo), yu


b, bb, p (''pro'' p, pp, p') ‖ d, dd, t (''pro'' t, tt, t')
g, gg, k (''pro'' k, kk, k') ‖ j, jj, ch/c (''pro'' ch, tch'/chch, ch')
h ‖ l (final/postvocalic), r (initial/prevocalic) ‖ m
n ‖ ŋ (''pro'' ng; NB―initial ㅇ is ignored)
s (even before "i"), ss
all other consonant combinations are romanized accordingly (e.g., ㅩ = lgs) 

If typefaces or encoding is a concern, the following substitutions can be used: ŏ → ô, ŭ → û, ŋ → ñ. A couple of other noteworthy points regarding Korean romanization have been made here. The system which I use for transliterating Korean is the most practicable and convenient of any I have ever seen or used. I'm the type that needs "pointing" in order to read Hebrew. I also highly advocate the use of diacritics in Tagalog, Hawaiian and any other languages which make distinctions between similarly spelt words. There seems to have evolved a perennial dichotomy between the written language and the spoken language. And at this point in history, I think languages have become far too complex to merge the two into one form of communication.—Strabismus 03:45, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

Hello Strabismus --
You make some interesting points here. However, one important aspect of Wikipedia to be aware of is the use of prevailing conventions (i.e. verifiable out in the field), and an aversion to original research. Inasmuch as I am aware, as convenient and logical as it may be, your romanization system is not conventional, and is original, which would be a double strike against it as far as Wikipedia is concerned. If I am mistaken, and this romanization system is used elsewhere in published works, by all means correct my misapprehension.
One minor point to make regarding Japanese phonology is that the language is decidedly not syllable-based, but rather mora-based, hence the difficulty you note in analysing geminate ("doubled") consonants and long vowels in terms of syllables. Given your example of すみません sumimasen, a breakdown by morae would result in su1 mi2 ma3 se4 n5, with the n given its own independent mora for five morae in total corresponding exactly to the five kana characters. Have a look at Japanese phonology, particularly the section Japanese phonology#Moras and phonotactics for further details. Cheers, Eiríkr Útlendi 16:17, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

need comments on hanja/hanmun

any experts here want to share your comments at Talk:Hanja, about difference between hanja, hanmun, hanja-eo, sino-korean, etc, & possible reorganization of content? thanks. Appleby 17:33, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

Borrowings from English

I'd like to know what others think about this edit by—Wikipeditor 14:31, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

I think that sentence needs a reference, and clarification. -- Visviva 02:07, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
The wording could certainly be better. English isn't my first language. As for references, I don't have any. I thought it was obvious and didn't expected any dispute about it. Take it out again, if you like. Wikipeditor 07:05, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
I don't think I was the one who took it out. If I did, I apologize; I didn't mean to. Sometimes I get confused.  :-) However, I think this statement does need a reference because there is an elephant in the room: Japanese loanwords which pass under the guise of Sino-Korean. I've seen various estimates of their number, some of which are quite high and might well exceed the number of English loanwords in common use. I'll see if I can find some reliable estimates.
Anyway, I think we need more data for this section, whether we deal with the Japanese-loanwords issue or not. Just a rough count or percentage of the number of English-derived words would be excellent. -- Visviva 07:44, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
Sorry – by “take it out again”, I didn't mean to imply you were the one who took it out last time.
As for Japanese loanwords, that's exactly the reason why I put in the restraint “except what can be written in hanja”, that is, if we exclude words like 건배. I guess the use of other Japanese loanwords has gradually decreased after WW II, while that of English loans (and Konglish) has increased. Wikipeditor 16:41, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
It seems that a 2005 study by the National Institute of Korean Language found some 1171 words of Japanese origin in daily use (but of these about 14% were borrowings from English and other Western languages by way of Japanese). Oddly I can't find comparable figures for borrowings from English, at least not right now. User:Iceager might be a good person to ask... -- Visviva 14:38, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
Anybody have a 외래어사전 handy? Would that provide a rough count of English words in semi-common use? -- Visviva 14:46, 3 April 2006 (UTC)

Spoken in...

In Korean language spoken population in USA. Recent updated information more Korean Americans who were born or not born in USA spoke more Korean language than Japanese americans speaking or understood Japanese. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Korea4one (talkcontribs) 07:23, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

Is there any reason for including the US and Japan as states in which Korean is spoken? Surely, by that standard we could list most of the countries of the world there. It seems more reasonable to reserve this for those places where there is a substantial indigenous Korean-speaking community. -- Visviva 06:07, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

Koreans are a significant minority in Japan, AFAIK. I'm not sure about the US, although I know there are a lot of Koreans in Los Angeles and Hawaiʻi. --KJ 07:45, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
How long must a significant number of speakers stay somewhere for the language to be called “indigenous”? Wikipeditor 12:57, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

Article too long

I agree, the article is too long for one article. I see Janvier has moved the honorifics details to a separate article, which is a great idea. Can someone do the same for North-South differences and Phonology sections? This article should be a general overview, easily readable and interesting to people first coming to the subject. It's an amazingly detailed article, though, just a little difficult to read in one sitting. Not really 04:41, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

Could someone do the same for Hangul, another incredibly informative but incredibly long article? I suppose I'm supposed to Be Bold!, but I'm a newbie, and not sure how to do something that drastic. Thanks! Not really 04:54, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

relation to Hungarian language?

In the second paragraph of the article, it is stated that

"Ancient 12th century Hungarian poetry bares remarkable similarities to pure Korean."

This statement is unfounded, and should either be deleted or backed up with proper citations. The single (and earliest) known piece of Hungarian poetry from that time is the Old Hungarian 'Lamentations of Mary'. Unlike Korean, this text, though difficult to understand, is not incomprehensible to the present day Hungarian speaker. As far as I know, there are only two continuous texts from that era (the other being [6], see [7] for an explanation in English), as writing in Hungarian became customary only in the XV.-XVI. centuries.

A friend recently explained that he had read that Korean is related to Finish. If so, wouldn't that make Korean a Uralic language too, presumably branching from Samoyedic? User: Jzylstra 20:51 6 Nov 2007 (UTC)

Regarding Frontpage of this article

Isn't 조선말 little rough? It is not exactly gramatically correct and if we are really going to include something with 조선, I think 조선어 works better. Your thoughts on this? -- Dooly00000

Hi, I think that
  • "Roughness" is too subjective. We should be objective, if possible.
  • Grammatical correctness is subjective too. People disagree on grammar.
    • Besides, if 한국말 is correct, then it seems 조선말 would be correct as well.
    • In South Korea, 한국어 is more formal than 한국말, but in North Korea, I would think 조선말 would be just as formal.
  • If it's attested in writing — it seems to be well attested judging from the Korean/Japanese Wikipedia articles — then it should stay, IMHO. --Kjoonlee 07:11, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
Well, reason for me proposing this is, because 조선말, not only 조선, the Old Korean Kingdom, does not exist anymore not to mention the 조선인, the Old Korean Kingdomers, did not speak and write the suggested 조선말. As we know (in case you did not), 훈민정음 (Hwun-min-jung-uum) was not exactly widely used until the Japanese takeover around end of 19th century (which by then, Yi/Lee Dynasty ended and started Japan-Colonized Era). --Dooly00000 (talk · contribs · count)
I don't follow you. Then why would 조선어 be any better? --Kjoonlee 02:02, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
Even if it doesn't seem to make sense to you, people probably do use 조선말 in North Korea. Language isn't logic. People say 문닫고 나가라 (close the door and leave) to mean 나가고 문 닫아라 (leave and close the door). --Kjoonlee 03:29, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
It was my impression that 조선말 is the pure Korean phrase, while the last syllable of 조선어 is, I think, Chinese-based. I may be wrong about that, but it certainly does have a more educated sound to it regardless. We go through these periods of getting back to the roots of the language. During the early 70s I was getting my exercise in the moodukwan gym in my town (Hwasoon, Cholla Nam Do), and when I was about mid-way through the colored belts, the central Taekwondo authority issued a decree that all the martial arts terminology would replace the Chinese-based terms with pure Korean terms. So a low block, for example, Ha-chay bangan, became A-ray makee. It was a challenge for me - but educational. --Dan 04:43, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
(Switched indent) Regardless of linguistic prescription in the South, doesn't the North discourage Hanja-eo as well? --Kjoonlee 05:51, 30 September 2006 (UTC)

This whole article should be divided into 3 sections. Section 1) regarding the historical aspects of the language, 2) the South Korean language and 3)the North Korean language. As similar as they may seem the two languages are different. 조선말/한국말 refers to North and South Korean words and phrases, not the whole language itself. Or it could be translated to North Korean horse and South Korean horse...

1)일본어 할줄알어? 2)일본말 할줄알어?

The english translation for both is "Can you speak Japanese?" BUT the 어 is referring to the language grammaticaly and the 말 refers to speaking words and phrases.

Intrestingly enough the word 말 is not added to every country. There is no 영말, there is 영 단어 but this literally refers to words only.

Hardest Language to master?

I was told that this language must be learned by the age of six, or a person can never get the accent correct.Is this true?Is there a source someone can cite? AeomMai (talk · contribs)

No, it's not the hardest. All languages are extremely complex (except for young pidgins, but they grow complex too), and similar languages languages that are similar to ones you already know will look easier in the beginning but will get harder as you get further.
No, you don't have to learn it by the age of six. Usually, you have until puberty to get the accent perfect, but you can get a correct accent after that, if you try. --Kjoonlee 03:15, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
It's funny you should mention it, though, because a similar question came up at the Korean article's talk page. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) of the US classifies Korean as a "superhard" language. See GAO: STATE SHOULD ADDRESS STAFFING SHORTAGES which links to Staffing and Foreign Language Shortfalls Persist Despite Initiatives to Address Gaps.
I had heard in 2002 that the US government considers Korean and Arabic the most difficult.
I disagree that Korean is the hardest though, for the reasons I mentioned above. Korean is just very different from English, that's all, IMHO. --Kjoonlee 03:27, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
Trust me, Kjoon, it's hard! Peace Corps mythos had it that Korean & Arabic were the hardest of the Peace Corps languages. The question more properly should be the difficulty for an English or Indo-European speaker; I can't imagine a Japanese speaker having too much difficulty learning Korean. I learned Korean in my mid 20s, and by the time I'd been living in the countryside for 18 months or so, speaking only Korean almost every day for weeks on end, I could make a phone call and the person on the other end would think I was Korean. So I guess you can get pretty close to native accent even as an adult, but I'm still, 30 years later, learning new things about the language. --Dan 20:57, 29 September 2006 (UTC)


Linguists usually say "All languages are extremely complex" and leave it at that. English is "hard" as well. ;) --Kjoonlee 02:17, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
If we have a statement like this in the article, it should be something like "one of the hardest languages for English speakers to master." The figures I have seen -- from the US Dept. of State, I think -- label Korean and Japanese as requiring the largest number of hours of intensive training to reach Oral Proficiency Interview level 5 (the figure in both cases was something like 2500 hours). Of course those figures are specific to English speakers; I have heard that it is a fairly easy language for speakers of Japanese and Chinese to learn. -- Visviva 02:47, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
I'd disagree. Linguists say all languages have about the same complexity: extremely complex; it's just a difference of where the complexity lies. Also, Korean people who study Japanese usually say "It's all really easy up to the first book, but from there, it just gets harder and harder." --Kjoonlee 05:55, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
Here are the figures I was thinking of -- guess this was from Omaggio's Teaching Language in Context, which I own but isn't at hand just now... Fortunately, it's excerpted in a somewhat unreadable format here: [8] Guess those 2500 hours of study only lead you to an OPI level of 3. Also, here's a PDF which confirms that the Defense Language Institute considers Korean (along with Chinese, Japanese, and Arabic) a "Category IV" language: [9]. The DLI doesn't joke around when it comes to language training and assessment, so if they say these are the most difficult languages for English speakers to master, I would be inclined to take them at their word. -- Visviva 08:21, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
I still say we can't say Korean's the most difficult. It probably wasn't a study in general proficiency, since it was done by the government for governmental purposes. The only sensible thing to say would be that the US gov. classifies Korean as very hard, IMHO. --Kjoonlee 08:41, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

Oh well, maybe I'm nitpicking too much about something not that significant. --Kjoonlee 10:00, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

Isn't the German language the hardest to master? I have read once that the grammatical structure is very complicated. Korean may be hard, but it has an alphabet, like english. Good friend100 14:07, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
German uses an alphabet too. All languages are hard to master. ;) --Kjoonlee 14:12, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

Hahaha to myself. =) I'm not strong in languages. I just read a book a while ago that German had multiple ways to say a sentence or question. Good friend100 14:17, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

i strongly suspect that the reason why korean, japanese, chinese and arabic are singled out as "hardest languages" is a combination of how different they are from english and factors related to their writing systems. afaik there is nothing inherent in e.g. chinese, japanese or korean that should make it any harder to learn from a purely oral perspective than "semi-hard" languages like malay or swahili; hence you have to conclude that the writing system is the real distinguishing factor (malay and swahili both use a latin-based writing system). (this is true despite the claim that the "hardness" is based on oral proficiency; certainly, the teaching methods also devote a lot of effort to the writing system, and early -- imho, mistaken --- emphasis on using the native writing systems greatly complicates the learning effort.) note that other asian/african languages with non-ideographic, non-latin writing systems end up in the "hard" category. the only exception is arabic; i suspect the extenuating problem here (on top of a quite complex grammar) is the diglossia between written and spoken arabic -- to be fluent in arabic you need to learn *at least two* languages, formal arabic and one of the spoken dialects. (imagine if "learning english" also required learning german, or "learning spanish" also required learning latin.)

i'd say, in fact, that from a purely oral perspective japanese should be one of the easier non-european languages for english speakers to learn -- very simple phonology with sounds that match up well with english sounds, and a consistent and not overly complex grammar. korean, for that matter, shouldn't be much harder. but consider the ten years spent by native japanese speakers just to master their writing system! Benwing 10:33, 20 December 2006 (UTC)

Hangul is "phonetic", making it about as easy as the Latin alphabet. Writing systems don't make languages harder; languages make language harder. --Kjoonlee 07:41, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

GREAT article

This is a superbly-written and very informative article. I wanted a basic overview of the Korean language, and that's exactly what I got here, with all the information presented clearly and cleanly. Someone should nominate this article for Featured Article status. Bravo! Moncrief 15:18, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

Thats what I wanted to comment too. Great job! Also, please congratulate any editors that put their effor into this article. :D Good friend100 15:20, 24 September 2006 (UTC)

I suggest you guys nominate this article for the Featured Article. Good job good effort Good friend100 15:29, 24 September 2006 (UTC)

The road to FAdom

Let me echo the praise for the many dedicated contributors who have made this such an excellent article. Although this is already (and has long been) a wonderful article, I think there are some tasks still facing us before Korean language can make it through Peer Review and FAC successfully. Specifically, we need to:

  • Thoroughly reference the article. The lack of references is probably the biggest weakness now.
  • Expand the lead per the Featured Article criteria.
  • Generally build up the text in sections such as Consonants, so that there is enough to balance the tables and charts.

Korean linguistics isn't really an area of strength for me, but I may be able to help out with the references somewhat. -- Visviva 07:26, 30 September 2006 (UTC)

Altaic Language

Many linguists classify Korean as an Altaic language, and it is mentioned as a possibility in the article, but it is widely acepted that Japanese is part of the eastern Altaic group. So if Korean is indeed an Altaic language, this would make it related to Japanese.Schprunkel 11:30, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

I certainly don't think it's widely accepted that Japanese is Altaic. See Japanese language classification for a discussion of the several different theories; as is, it's also got an article at Japonic languages, and to classify it as its own family implies we won't ever know the source. Dekimasu 09:51, 14 October 2006 (UTC)
There is a good amount of genetic evidence for considering the Japanese to be a very isolated people group, and therefore, a theory that posits an independent Japonic language family to account for just Japanese and Ryukyuan is not too farfetched. However, much of the genetic evidence also points to some distant genetic connections between both the Japanese and the Koreans and the Japanese and Altaic-speaking peoples, and there is an especially strong connection between the Japanese and the Ainu. It could also be pointed out that some genetic analyses would consider nearly all modern East and Southeast Asian nations (Chinese, Vietnamese, etc.) to be merely prehistoric (e.g., 10,000 or more years ago) offshoots of proto-Koreans. A discovery of some ancient documents that clarify the nature of the languages of ancient Koguryeo, Paekche, and perhaps other languages spoken in ancient times on the fringes of what we now call "China" would probably be extremely enlightening. Ebizur 21:37, 22 October 2006 (UTC)

Sounds European

At the end of the first paragraph in the Dialects section: " Western ears, often sounds European." I'm sorry, but exactly what does that mean? How does a "European" language sound? And to whom? A Westerner? Someone from Italy? Or Finland? If it sounds French to someone whose native language is English, then write that. But to think that all languages in Europe sound the same, or that all Westerners speak English, is just very, very narrow-minded and uneducated.

I think that was one of the silliest statement I've ever read on Wikipedia.

Kdehl 04:06, 4 November 2006 (UTC)

It's now been removed. Thanks for pointing that out, but you could have done it yourself, too.. ;) --Kjoonlee 05:16, 4 November 2006 (UTC)

Vowel chart

The vowel charts should be improved: The colon symbol could be explained as lengthening (even if that term itself is unclear, it is some-thing that one can look up and try to understand), and, more importantly, there is no easy to find relating of the IPA symbols with the Hangul letters. We need to make it easy for the user to see how each letter is pronounced (to the extent that this is feasible). How about putting the Hangul characters next to the relevant IPA ones? Kdammers 04:27, 2 January 2007 (UTC)

There are a number of meaningless squares on the page when I use IE in Korea. In addition, on the chart ' o: ' is placed at both midleft and midright: clearly wrong. Kdammers 00:33, 3 January 2007 (UTC)

Info on writing cut from lead section

Traditionally, Sino-Korean words were written using Hanja, but since the 20th century, the use of Chinese characters has gradually lost popularity, and Sino-Korean words are now normally written using Hangul. North Korea stopped using Chinese characters in 1949. Usually, only a small amount of Chinese characters can be found in the written language of South Korea.

Hi, I removed the above from the article, because I thought it was giving too much focus on something not-quite-on-topic; the lead section should focus on summarizing the whole article, IMHO. --Kjoonlee 00:25, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

I disagree. This is how the Korean language has changed. It is a key feature of this language. It definitely should be mentioned in the introduction. Migye 14:56, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
You're confusing "writing" with "spoken language." They are as different as night and day from a linguistics perspective. Furthermore, the matter isn't even covered in the article. It belongs either in the Hangul article, or on a section on Korean morphology. --Kjoonlee 15:21, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

User:Kjoonlee, I'm warning you of possible 3RR violation. The written language is part of the language. What difference does your arguement make. As for the spoken language, it doesn't even have any similarity with the Chinese language. Migye 15:23, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

Written language is part of language true, but writing systems are not part of languages. You're confusing language with characters, judging from your edits to Talk:Sinosphere and this talk page. Speech can be acquired with no teaching. Writing must be taught. These are fundamental differences that any linguistics textbook will tell you. Therefore, info on the history of Korean writing systems does not belong here. That Korean has many Sino-Korean morphemes might belong in a morphology section, but there isn't one.

Therefore, it is off-topic in this article and should be deleted. --Kjoonlee 15:33, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

Please stop being ridiculous. Language include spoken language and written language. An article about a language should include both. There is a seperate section in this article that exclusive deals with Korean written language. Please stop deleting. Migye 15:37, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

Speech is primary and writing is secondary. Please don't make personal attacks. --Kjoonlee 15:38, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
I have to agree with Kjoonlee here. Migye, please do some reading on Sino-Korean. Vocabulary and loan words don't equal writing system, and they certainly don't equal a whole language. In fact, writing system is only a small part of this article. Your rationale doesn't make any sense. Hong Qi Gong (Talk - Contribs) 15:39, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

Sino-Korean words accoutn for only a small portion of the spoken language. All languages borrowed vacubularies from other language. It is actually not that worth mentioning. Migye 15:52, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

미계님의 의견 숙독 후 상당히 독특한 발언이라는 결론에 도달했습니다. You seem to be pushing your POV onto articles. --Kjoonlee 15:55, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

Please refer to the vocabulary section of this article. Migye 15:57, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

Which says the opposite of what you wanted it to say. --Kjoonlee 16:01, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

Anyway, you're biased and I've rephrased these sentences. Migye 16:13, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

How am I biased when I'm just reporting facts? You seem to be making misleading phrases to push your POV. --Kjoonlee 16:24, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

I'm reporting the facts. But you are reporting only one fact. That makes you biased. What's wrong with "The core of the Korean vocabulary is made up of native Korean words. But like Japanese and Vietnamese, the Korean language borrowed large amounts of morphemes from Chinese. There are also certain amount of vocabularies borrowed from Japanese and Western languages." ? Migye 16:30, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

OK, sorry about that. I must have been a little confused. Nevertheless, I think all my other points stand. Please don't try to downplay the influence of Chinese culture on Korean culture. --Kjoonlee 16:41, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
As for bias, the lead section should be a summary or an overview. We should keep it brief as well as balanced. --Kjoonlee 16:43, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

I agree with you on changing the wording to "influenced by Chinese". Most of those Sino-Korean words actually are not Chinese language, even though they were written in Chinese characters. Migye 18:49, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

Please use this talk page for comments, instead of reverting legitimate edits and using the edit summary to talk. --Kjoonlee 18:56, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

Most of the Sino-Korean words written in Chinese characters don't make sense to Chinese people at all. These are just Chinese characters used by Koreans to record their own spoken language. The portion of vocabulary borrowed from the Chinese is overblown in the article. Actually, you need to provide authoritative sources to back those large numbers. As for borrowed words from Japanese, they are listed in the Sino-Korean article. Those are real examples. What other sources can be better? Migye 19:03, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

I disagree with the first part, but I think you have a point. As for the numbers, yes, we do need a citation. As for the Sino-Korean article, if it does have a citation (a source for the info) then please copy it here. Examples won't do. --Kjoonlee 19:10, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

Actually, most Sino-Korean words written in Chinese characters do make sense to Chinese people, and I'm speaking from the perspective of a native Chinese speaker/reader who has a little knowledge of Korean and Hangul as well. Even their pronounciations can be very close to the Cantonese or Hokkien dialects sometimes, and these are two dialects that some linguists say retain more of the pronounciations of Middle Chinese (a historical form of Chinese that people don't use anymore). But I'm speaking purely in terms of vocabulary. It goes without saying that if Hanja was used to string together a sentence in Korean, Chinese people would not understand that, because Korean is a very different language from Chinese. But if you're talking about using Hanja to write down the Sino-Korean names of specific objects, then yes, your average Chinese reader would be able to recognise that.

Moving on - about loanwords from "western languages". How significant is this? I know that there is now plenty of spoken vocabulary borrowed from English, but what other western language? And how much of the Korean vocabulary is Konglish? Hong Qi Gong (Talk - Contribs) 21:12, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

Ok, I've found a source. Section 1.5.3, pages 12-13, of this book. According to this, 60% of the Korean vocabulary is Sino-Korean, 35% is native Korean, and the remaining 5% is loan words, of which 90% is from English. I've edited the article accordingly. Hong Qi Gong (Talk - Contribs) 22:41, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

If 60% of Korean words are of Chinese origin, wouldn't that make modern Korea at least as much a (comparatively) new language descended from the Chinese language as a descendant of the original Korean language? If you replace a large majority of a langauge's words with ones based on a different langauge, surely the result cannot be considered the same language as what you start with. It seems pretty clear just from that statistic that modern Korean is more a descendant of Chinese than it is of Old Korean. — Red XIV (talk) 03:52, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
They're not really from Chinese speech; they're based on Chinese writing. It's almost as if there were lots of English words from Latin, there being two words for bird: "bird" and "ubud", the latter from Latin "avis". Words like "ubud" wouldn't be used alone (most of the time) but they would join with other words (like "ingus" from Latin "ignis") to form words like "ubudingus", "firebird".
Also, let's say the English language had 70% of its words from Latin and French. Does that make English a Romance language, instead of a Germanic language? It doesn't. It's similar with Korean. --Kjoonlee 06:22, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

Similarity with Vietnamese????

That is inferred in the article. I've never heard this before. Isn't Vietnamese highly tonal and Korean is mono tonal? Can someone look into this? WangKon936 22:45, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

List of Korean surnames up for deletion

Please vote at Badagnani 05:37, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Pronunciation of ㅚ in IPA

Hi all,

I'm attempting to compile charts on the IPA values of a whole bunch of different languages, for linguistic study and comparison purposes. I'm on Korean at the moment and I noticed that a letter is missing from our section where we give the IPA values of Korean letters. Does anybody know what the IPA value for ㅚ is?

It's also worth nothing that I tried to find this out independently through searching the web, and there seems to be a great deal of inconsistency between IPA charts for Hangul. Consider the following sources, none of which are consistent with each other:

How sure are we that the chart included in this article is reliable? And if the differences that arise between these sources are dialectical, shouldn't we substitute the word "canonical" with the particular dialect that they represent?

Any help would be appreciated. =) Thanks in advance! – Lantoka (talk) 19:29, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

Some interesting discussion I found: UniLang Forum – Lantoka (talk) 20:26, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
This page corresponds perfectly to this article, and gives ㅚ as [wø]. We should consider adding it to the article, if this is in fact the pronunciation. – Lantoka (talk) 22:34, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
I think it should be pronounced as woe or more specifically, wooé Orthodoxy
Most people pronounce it as [we] in Korea. I only became aware of [wø] [ø] when I was told about it, and that was when I was 25.. --Kjoonlee 07:33, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
I think the Barrett translation thing should be rejected out of hand; what does that symbol even mean? It's not an IPA symbol AFAIK. It gives the impression that someone sloppily assumed that the "oe" spelling was derived from German and thus arrived at the modern German spelling of that phoneme.
The Glossika thing should be rejected as well: it suggests the IPA spelling "oi", which is an "oh" followed by an "ee". I am definitely not an oh-ee-guk saram.
The spelling seen on Omniglot, "we", is anywhere from right on the mark to a reasonable approximation. At the beginning of a word, at least, this sound is definitely a diphthong, at least in the Seoul dialect, so the monophthong [ø] currently used in two places on the page should go. I don't have enough expertise to know what exactly the [ø] sound is, and whether [wø] is more correct than [we]. I suggest we revert to [we] until we can find a source that seems reliable. And if there is a dialect where this phoneme has become a monophthong, that should be noted alongside or separately. --Rschmertz 03:41, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
The monophthong is rare, but some old people still use it, I hear. At the English Wikipedia, articles or sections related to Korean phonology have been somewhat influenced by the Handbook of the International Phonetic Association. The Handbook includes [ø]. (Yes, the Korean section of the Handbook has a somewhat conservative view, since it was written by a conservative person, professor Hyeon-bok Lee.) --Kjoonlee 06:32, 3 October 2007 (UTC)


This article says that Korean is (or viewed as) language isolate. Since Korean has the same grammar as Japan (or vise versa), it should fall into the same category that Japan has. Although the writing system (hang(e)ul) is totally different, the speaking is similar and the grammar is the same as Japanese. Therefore, I am not an expert at language classification, but I wish that another person can make a change to the Classification part of the Korean Language article. Merci beaucoup. Orthodoxy

Syntax is similar at the cursory level, but speech is not similar at all. (Writing is secondary to speech and is irrelevant when it comes to language classification.) --Kjoonlee 07:36, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

Korean Language (Interrogative vs. Imperative)

Read what an interrogative is: Read what an imperative is:

가셔 kashe -go!(imperative) (가아라) 가라 kara - go!(imperative) 가세(요) kasei(yo) - go!(imperative) 가십시오 kasibsio - go!(imperative)

하셔 hashe - do!(imperative) (하여라) 해라 haira - do!(imperative) 하세(요) hasei(yo) - do!(imperative) 하십시오 hasibsio - do!(imperative)

Please provide reasons why you have made those changes. Jkrdsr 08:21, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

Hi, I think you'd want to look at those links you provided, if they explain what interrogatives and imperatives are. The sentence at the Korean language article was plainly a question, therefore an interrogative. It's just a coincidence that it looks like an imperative. --Kjoonlee 15:42, 9 July 2007 (UTC) I've had a look, and they explain different speech levels. If the paper on interrogatives had been covering the same speech level as “하세요!”, then it would mentioned “하세요?” as an interrogative. If you're still not convinced, remember that “안녕하세요?” is an interrogative greeting that ends with “-세요” but it still isn't an imperative. Thank you. --Kjoonlee 16:11, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

"If the paper on interrogatives had been covering the same speech level as “하세요!”, then it would mentioned “하세요?” as an interrogative."--Kjoonlee 16:11, 9 July 2007 (UTC) <--This is just your thinking. “안녕하세요?” is not an interrogative. Remember that it is only because “안녕하세요?”'s formal equivalent is "how are you?"(interrogative) does not make “안녕하세요?” an interrogative in Korean. A Korean interrogative must have a wh-word (누구, 어떻게, 왜, 뭣, etc.).Jkrdsr 17:54, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

“하세요!” & “하세요?”, in Korean are the same structurally. Their only difference is the ! and the ? which makes the latter a question.Jkrdsr 17:54, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

Please clarify your definition of an interrogative and an imperative.Jkrdsr 17:54, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

A Korean interrogative must have a wh-word (누구, 어떻게, 왜, 뭣, etc.).Jkrdsr 17:54, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

This is simply not true. Questions that can be answered with a yes/no do not need question words. Also, think of *“안녕하십시오!” vs. “안녕하십니까?”. The latter is the greeting, and it is definitely a yes/no question, therefore an interrogative. *안녕하십시오! is the imperative, and there's no coincidence here. --Kjoonlee 18:01, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

Although they are made of the same phonemes, their syntactic structure couldn't be any more different. Compare 안녕하십시오! vs 안녕하십니까? again.. I'm telling you again, 하세요 is just a coincidence.. Ask at Talk:Korean language if you like.'' --Kjoonlee 18:05, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

For 안녕하세요 to be an interrogative, it must be 왜 안녕하세요?, 어떻게 안녕하세요?, 누구가 안녕하세요?. 안녕하세요? alone is not an interrogative. syntactic structure?....If you are saying that “하세요!” & “하세요?” are the same because they are spelled and therefore sound the same you are truly incorrect. 하세요 with rising tone on 요 make it a question. The difference between “하세요!” & “하세요?” is only tonal. For you to state that it was mere coincidence show your lack of understanding of the Korean language. Language is never a coincidence. Please read the following and reread the previous links: ...and please provide more than just assumptions in your next response.Jkrdsr 18:28, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

Sigh.. intonation is not phonemic. Intonation is not segmental. Intonation is suprasegmental. And I said that 하세요! and 하세요? are very very different, not the same. You were the one who said that 하세요! and 하세요? were the same. --Kjoonlee 18:33, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

Also, please note that there are two kinds of questions. Wh-questions and yes/no-questions. You seem to be unaware of what yes/no-questions look like in Korean. Aren't yes/no-questions also quesions? 제 말 아시겠습니까..? Do you understand what I'm saying..? --Kjoonlee 18:33, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

You said that languages are never a coincidence, but they are all full of coincidences. Just look at false friend and false cognate. --Kjoonlee 18:36, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

Korean interrogative sentences of the "yes/no" variety in the 해체 (haeche) and 해요체 (haeyoche) styles do not have any explicit interrogative marker, aside from the final question mark and the rising intonation. See wikt:안녕하다, which notes that it's an adjective (not a verb, so it has no imperative form) with 안녕하세요 as both a declarative and interrogative conjugation. 안녕하세요? (Annyeonghaseyo?) is definitely a question. Rod (A. Smith) 17:15, 12 July 2007 (UTC)

Almost all adjectives in Korean are also verbs. They're called descriptive verbs because of that. Thank you for reminding me that descriptive verbs don't have imperatives. --Kjoonlee 18:00, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
On second thought, 건강하다 is also a descriptive verb but people do say 건강하십시오. Maybe descriptive verbs can form imperatives after all? --Kjoonlee 18:03, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
Yes, Korean 형용사 (hyeong-yongsa) are also known as descriptive/stative verbs. We've been calling them "adjectives" in Wiktionary, but I should have been more precise. 안녕하다 (annyeonghada) and 건강하다 (geonganghada) are both 형용사 (hyeong-yongsa), so I wouldn't expect to see imperatives for either, but 186,000 Google hits for 건강하십시오 can't be wrong. Maybe some 형용사 (hyeong-yongsa) have imperative forms. Hopefully a Korean grammar expert can set us straight. Rod (A. Smith) 23:01, 13 July 2007 (UTC)
Some Korean prescriptivists say that 건강하십시오 and 행복하십시오 are wrong, because in other languages, you can't form imperatives using adjectives only. What those prescriptivists fail to see is (IMHO) that in other languages, you can't form past forms either, using only adjectives. By their logic, 작았다 would be wrong as well... --Kjoonlee 20:43, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
I really doubt that any Korean prescriptivist thinks that Korean 형용사 function the same way as adjectives of most other languages. If they proscribe 건강하십시오, it's because traditional Korean grammar does not include an imperative form for 형용사. Rod (A. Smith) 22:55, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
But that's circular logic. They say it's ungrammatical because their grammar doesn't include it. Why doesn't it include it? Because "adjectives" (형용사 is used to described English adjectives also) don't have imperatives. What they fail to see is that Korean "descriptive verbs" are distinct from 관형사, which are closer to English adjectives / demonstratives IMHO. Quote: ‘건강하다’ ‘행복하다’는 모두 형용사이다. 아시다시피 형용사는 어떤 상태를 묘사하는 단어이기 때문에 명령형으로 쓰일 수 없다. And even 관형사 can be used in the imperative: And wishing for outcomes can be done using the imperative ending together with descriptive verbs: 제발 작아라 please may it be small. --Kjoonlee 00:10, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
제발 작아라, 제발 비싸라 and 제발 재미있어라 are all attested. (When searching for these forms you have to watch out for the declarative ending of astonishment -라, which looks like an imperative.) --Kjoonlee 00:25, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
This issue has been talked about in the grammar of Japanese also. But, one must realize that, an adjective in Korean includes the "subject" and the "object. 작았다, will be [It] was small. Many non-Korean/Japanese speakers are confused about the condensation of subjects and objects, which leads to people thinking that only the adjectives are used. I am not sure where this is heading for, but you cannot call 건강하십시오 a 형용사 (adj.) because the word itself includes a verb form, the etre verb (be verbs). 건강하십시오 will mean something like Be healthy. A root of a word can vary from adj to verbs, just like Esperanto, like the ending letter "o" will make the word noun, and "as" will make the word a verb.


Can someone please translate this phrase- "Be yourself"- into casual, neutral Korean? (Consider that the "be" is imperative, yet not aggresive) Kikiluvscheese 03:59, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

It's kinda a tough question. Koreans don't use it that often. This should be it.

네 자신이 되어라. (Pronunciation: ne jashin'ee doe uh ra.) Benhpark 23:59, 18 November 2007 (UTC)


I'm sorry if this is totally random, but isn't it a little odd that kekekeke redirects to Laughter, while kekekekeke redirects here? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:01, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

Korean Language and Proto Finno Ugrian Language

I have read now all published under title Korean Language but I have not found any mentions to the old belief that Korean language is closer to Finnish language than any of Indo European languages. Nor any mention to Professor Gustav John Ramstedt 1873-1950 who, when being the first Finland´s Ambassador in Japan 1919-1930, created also a modern Korean Grammar. Professor Kalevi Wiik has said, before any DNA researchs, that Korean language is one language derived of the Proto Finno Ugrian languages developed in Central Asia Altai Region. This was also, before Wiik, the opinion of Professor Ramstedt. He saw also Korean connections to Kalmuk (Oirot) language which he placed of origin to Altaic language group. Thus, when compared these to the ancient belief that Koreans originated from nowadays East Turkistan (Sinkiang) and Western Mongolia, being part of, now politiced, Eastern Turanian Peoples and started wandering eastward c. 4000-3000 BC because the climate had bocome drier, through Manchurian Plain and ended to Korea sometime c. 2800-2600 BC. These ancient peoples were assimilated to the peoples living by then in the Korean Peninsula, then still culturally in Early Stone Age. In Finnish language the old transliteration of old name of Korea was Aamunkojon maa (Land of the First Morning Sight of Light). Another theory said that the newcomers described land with name Koria / Korea (Beautifully Handsome). Third wersion said that they named it Koiran maa (Dog´s Land) because the stone aged people living there had so many dogs and they ate mainly dog´s meat. The newcomers introduced the typical Finno Ugrian Slash and Burn method into the agriculture in Korea. It was presumably by this period when their languages were mixed with each others developed in next couple of hundred years to Proto Korean language when the peoples were assimilated with each others. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:05, 30 September 2007 (UTC)

Unconvincing. The name Korea comes from Goryeo, from the 10th century of so. Goryeo came from Goguryeo. Som e people think Goguryeo was actually pronounced Gauri in speech. --Kjoonlee 08:08, 30 September 2007 (UTC)
Koreans called themselves "Joseon" not Korea at the time the West named them... There are some language roots that can be argued to be the same though, for example the Korean number system and Hungarian sound very, very much the same. This isn't the Chinese numbers, but the hana, tul set, net, etc. Korean has many outside influences as well. Such as the Vietamese relation is due to the allowing Vietnamese to come into the country as a refuge. The Chinese is from cultural exchanges with influences mainly from Cantonese and another trade language I can't remember. However from what I learned about Creole languages, etc what determines the actual roots is the actual grammar structure of the language. In this Japanese and Korean do seem to be related since they both have the same basic grammar structure and trappings (Agglutinating). As supposed to Chinese which is an Isolating grammar structure.--Hitsuji Kinno 18:16, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
Similar grammatical structures can be due to areal spreading. The way relatedness is determined is by shared roots in words that haven't been (or, when it's uncertain, those that are less likely to be) borrowed. Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 20:37, 3 October 2007 (UTC)


Hangukmal is spoken Korean... shouldn't something be mentioned about this difference? One doesn't say in Korean, I don't speak very goo hangukoh, you use mal.--Hitsuji Kinno 18:07, 3 October 2007 (UTC)

Example of text / sounds

Hi, I want to post a recording of the Korean language, namely, a reading of The North Wind and the Sun in Korean. I want to use a translation from a book, which will be a little over 3 lines on a 1024x768 screen, using the default Wikipedia skin.

Would that be OK under fair use? If I want to use a self-made recording of it, would that have to be under fair use as well? Or can I use something more permissive? Thank you in advance. --Kjoonlee 21:47, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

Yes, this would probably be fine, depending on the copyright status of the translation. The story is old enough to be in the public domain, but you need to make sure that the translation to Korean is also. For something to be public domain in the United States, it must have been published before 1923. Calliopejen1 (talk) 14:53, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Protect the page

I saw some heavy vandalism, I'm going to revert it, here is an example of what I meant. 21:15, 13 November 2007 (UTC)

Statistics: How hard is Korean?

Anyone have good sources about the difficulty of learning Korean for speakers of various other languages? 34tq34t (talk · contribs)/‎ (talk · contribs · WHOIS) has been inserting a quote from about it being even harder than Japanese; I personally don't think is a good source, so I've removed it. The only thing I've been able to find that's better is:

Sung, Ki-Min (2004-10-20). "Uncle Sam Wants You ... to Learn Korean". KoreAm Journal. Retrieved 2008-01-10.  Check date values in: |date= (help)

In that article, a Defense Language Institute official expresses her opinion that Korean is harder than Arabic, Japanese, or Chinese, and states that the failure rate for the Korean language course there is 25%. I'd rather have a more solid source than that, something like this [10] study of attrition rates for Russian. (Actually, 25% doesn't sound too high to me; the attrition rate for Arabic is 30%, according to [11], or 28%, according to [12]). cab (talk) 07:43, 10 January 2008 (UTC)

Additional vowel sounds

Korean has more vowel sounds than those listed on the chart. A good example are the many homographs in Korean: 눈 IPA /nun/ means "eye" but IPA /nu:n/ means "snow" 밤 IPA /pam/ means "chestnut" but IPA /pa:m/ means "night" 말 IPA /mal/ means "horse" but IPA /ma:l/ means "speech" I feel like we should address this on the chart, or if not somewhere else Bigblair (talk) 13:14, 10 February 2008 (UTC)

But we do have those vowels in the vowel charts, and at Korean phonology. --Kjoonlee 00:11, 11 February 2008 (UTC)
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