About Korea > Language

Korean Language


Korean Language

The Korean language like Hungarian, Turkish, Mongolian and Finnish, is classified into the Ural-Altaic language group, although the languages don’t sound particularly alike. In fact, many scholars disagree with this classification.

Grammatically, the Korean language resembles Japanese, while about 70% of its vocabulary is based on Chinese characters. Written Korean is much easier to learn to read than other Asian languages. Developed in 1443 under the patronage of King Sejong the Great, who wanted everyone to be able to read, Hangeul was conceived as a rendition of spoken sound.

This is of particular import when one thinks of the fact that Chinese and Japanese characters are pictorial representations and involved hundreds upon hundreds of characters and even, sometimes, interpretations. Hangeul is simple, easy to decipher and quick to learn.

About Hangeul:

The alphabet, called hangeul, is made up of 24 letters (jamo) including 10 vowels and 14 consonants.

  -Words are created by combining the letters into syllable blocks.
  -Additional sounds are created by adding to the 14 consonants
   and 10 vowels, see below.
  -The shapes of the consonants g/k, n, s, m and ng are graphical 
   representations of the speech organs used to pronounce them.
  -Other consonants were created by adding extra lines to the basic 
   shapes.
  -The vowel shapes are based on three elements: man (a vertical line), 
   earth (a horizontal line) and heaven (a dot).
  -In modern Hangeul the heavenly dot has mutated into a short line.
  -Words are made up of one or more syllables and there is a space
   between each word.
  -Korean can be written in vertical columns running from top to
   bottom and right to left, or in horizontal lines running from left to right.


b,p

d,t

j

g,k

p

t

ch

s

m

n

h

r,l

n,g

k

kk

jj

pp

ss

dd


Vowels:


ee

a

eo

u

o

yeo

ya

eu

yo

yu

ae

e

ae

yae

ui

wi

we

wea

wa

wo

 

Last Updated on 2010-06-28


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