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Korean ( , ''hangugeo''; , ''chosŏnmal'') is an East Asian language spoken by about 80 million people, mainly
Korean Korean may refer to: People and culture * Koreans, ethnic group originating in the Korean Peninsula * Korean cuisine * Korean culture * Korean language **Korean alphabet, known as Hangul or Chosŏn'gŭl **Korean dialects and the Jeju language **S ...
, as of 2020. It is the
official An official is someone who holds an office (function or , regardless whether it carries an actual with it) in an or government and participates in the exercise of , (either their own or that of their superior and/or employer, public or legally ...

official
and
national language A national language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing system composed o ...
of both
North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in , constituting the northern part of the n Peninsula. It borders and to the north, at the (Amnok) and rivers, and to the south at the . Its wes ...

North Korea
and
South Korea South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an individual's birth, residence or citizenship. A cou ...

South Korea
(originally
Korea Korea is a region in East Asia. Since 1945, it has been divided between two countries at or near the 38th parallel north, 38th parallel, North Korea (the Democratic People's Republic of Korea) and South Korea (the Republic of Korea). Korea co ...

Korea
), with different standardized official forms used in each country. It is a recognised minority language in the
Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture Yanbian ( zh, s=延边, t=延邊, p=Yánbiān; Hangul, Chosŏn'gŭl: , ''Yeonbyeon''; Hangul: '', Yenbyen''), officially known as the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, is an autonomous prefecture in the east of Jilin, Jilin Province, China ...
and
Changbai Korean Autonomous County Changbai Korean Autonomous County, or simply Changbai County, is a county in southern Jilin province, China, facing Hyesan, North Korea North Korea (Korean language, Korean: /, McCune–Reischauer, MR: ''Chosŏn''; literally /, Mc ...

Changbai Korean Autonomous County
of
Jilin Province Jilin (; Postal romanization, alternately romanized as Kirin or Chilin) is one of the three Provinces of China, provinces of Northeast China. Its capital and largest city is Changchun. Jilin borders North Korea (Rasŏn, North Hamgyong, Ryan ...

Jilin Province
,
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It is the world's , with a of more than 1.4 billion. China spans five geographical and 14 different countries, the in the world after . Covering an area of ap ...

China
. It is also spoken in parts of
Sakhalin Sakhalin ( or ; rus, Сахали́н, r=Sakhalín, p=səxɐˈlʲin; ja, 樺太 ''Karafuto'') is the northernmost island of the Japanese Archipelago, Japanese archipelago and the largest island of the Russian Federation. It is situated in the ...

Sakhalin
,
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of Europe. There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly becau ...

Russia
and
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in which stretches from the in the west to and in the east, and from and in the south to in the north, including the former of , , , , and . It is also colloquially referred to as "the stans" as the countries all ...

Central Asia
. Modern linguists generally classify Korean as a
language isolate A language isolate is a language that is unrelated to any others. In the absolute sense, it is a natural language with no demonstrable genealogical (or "genetic") relationship—one that has not been demonstrated to descend from an ancestor comm ...
, and its connection to languages such as
Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat = Imperial Seal of J ...

Japanese
is unclear;. however, it does have a few
extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells (cell theory). Organisms are classified by ...
relatives, which together with Korean itself and the
Jeju language Jeju ( ko, 제주어 , Korean and Jeju: or ), often called Jejueo or Jejuan in English-language scholarship, is a Koreanic language Koreanic is a compact language family A language is a structured system of communication used by human ...
(spoken in the
Jeju Province Jeju Province, officially Jeju Special Self-Governing Province, is one of the nine provinces of South Korea Provinces are one of the first-level divisions within South Korea South Korea (Korean language, Korean: /, Revised Romanizat ...
) form the Koreanic language family. The
linguistic homeland In historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time. Principal concerns of historical linguistics include: # to describe and account for observed changes ...
of Korean is suggested to be somewhere in
Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym and endonym, exonym for a historical and geographic region of Russia and China in Northeast Asia (mostly in Northeast China today). Its extent may vary depending on the context: * Modern geographical region: ** (most oft ...

Manchuria
. Modern Korean is written in
Hangul The Korean alphabet, known as Hangul, . Hangul may also be written as following South Korea's . in and Chosŏn'gŭl in , is a writing system for the created by King in 1443. The letters for the five basic s reflect the shape of the speec ...

Hangul
, a system developed in the 15th century for that purpose. Modern Hangul uses 24 basic letters and 27 complex letters. Originally, Korean was a
spoken language A spoken language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing system composed of glyp ...
, as written records were maintained in
Classical Chinese Classical Chinese, also known as Literary Chinese (古文 ''gǔwén'' "ancient text", or 文言 ''wényán'' "text speak"; modern vernacular: 文言文 ''wényánwén'' "text speak text"), is the language of the classic literature from the end ...
, which is not
mutually intelligible In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include p ...
with either the historical or modern Korean languages, even in its spoken form.
Hanja Hanja (; Hanja: , , or Hancha) is the Korean name for a traditional writing system consisting mainly of Chinese characters () that was incorporated and used since the Gojoseon period (400 BC). More specifically, it refers to the C ...

Hanja
,
Chinese characters Chinese characters, also called ''hanzi'' (), are logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language by means of a writing system. Written language is an invention in that it ...
adapted to the Korean language, are still used to a very limited extent in South Korea.


History

Modern Korean descends from
Middle Korean Middle Korean is the period in the history of the Korean language Korean ( /, ''hangugeo''; /, ''chosŏnmal'') is an Languages of East Asia, East Asian language spoken by about 77 million people. It is the official language, official and natio ...
, which in turn descends from
Old Korean Old Korean () is the first historically documented stage of the Korean language, typified by the language of the Unified Silla period (668–935). The boundaries of Old Korean periodization remain in dispute. Linguists sometimes classify the poor ...
, which descends from the
Proto-Koreanic language Koreanic is a compact language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing system compos ...
which is generally suggested to have its
linguistic homeland In historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time. Principal concerns of historical linguistics include: # to describe and account for observed changes ...
.Vovin, Alexander (2013). "From Koguryo to Tamna: Slowly riding to the South with speakers of Proto-Korean". ''Korean Linguistics''. 15 (2): 222–240. Whitman (2012) suggests that the proto-Koreans, already present in northern Korea, expanded into the southern part of the
Korean Peninsula Korea is a region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and planets. The fi ...

Korean Peninsula
at around 300 BC and coexisted with the descendants of the Japonic Mumun cultivators (or assimilated them). Both had influence on each other and a later founder effect diminished the internal variety of both language families. Since the
Korean War The Korean War (see § Names) was a war fought between North Korea North Korea (Korean language, Korean: /, McCune–Reischauer, MR: ''Chosŏn''; literally /, McCune–Reischauer, MR: ''Pukchosŏn'', or /, Revised Romanization ...

Korean War
, through 70 years of separation, North–South differences have developed in standard Korean, including variations in pronunciation and vocabulary chosen, but these minor differences can be found in any of the
Korean dialects A number of Korean dialects are spoken on the Korea, Korean Peninsula. The peninsula is extremely mountainous and each dialect's "territory" corresponds closely to the natural boundaries between different geographical regions of Korea. Most of th ...
, which are still largely
mutually intelligible In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include p ...
.


Writing systems

Chinese characters Chinese characters, also called ''hanzi'' (), are logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language by means of a writing system. Written language is an invention in that it ...
arrived in Korea (see
Sino-Xenic pronunciations Sino-Xenic or Sinoxenic pronunciations are regular systems for reading Chinese characters in Japan, Korea and Vietnam, originating in medieval times and the source of large-scale borrowings of Chinese words into the Japanese, Korean and Vietnames ...
for further information) together with
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...

Buddhism
during the Proto-Three Kingdoms era in the 1st century BC. They were adapted for Korean and became known as
Hanja Hanja (; Hanja: , , or Hancha) is the Korean name for a traditional writing system consisting mainly of Chinese characters () that was incorporated and used since the Gojoseon period (400 BC). More specifically, it refers to the C ...

Hanja
, and remained as the main script for writing Korean for over a millennium alongside various phonetic scripts that were later invented such as Idu,
Gugyeol Gugyeol, also ''kwukyel'', is a system for rendering texts written in Classical Chinese into understandable Korean language, Korean. It was chiefly used during the Joseon Dynasty, when readings of the Chinese classics were of paramount social im ...
and
Hyangchal ''Hyangchal'' (literally ''vernacular letters'', ''local letters'' or ''corresponded sound'') is an archaic writing system of Korea Korea (officially the "Korean Peninsula") is a region in East Asia. Since 1945 it has been Division of Kore ...
. Mainly privileged elites were educated to read and write in Hanja. However, most of the population was illiterate. In the 15th century, King
Sejong the Great Sejong the Great (세종대왕, ; 15 May 1397 – 8 April 1450) was the fourth king of the Joseon dynasty The Joseon dynasty (also transcribed as Chosŏn or Chosun, ko, 대조선국; 大朝鮮國, ) was a Korean Korean may refer to: ...
personally developed an
alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic ...

alphabet
ic
featural writing system In a featural writing system A writing system is a method of visually representing verbal communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Semantics, meaning among Subject (philosophy) ...
known today as
Hangul The Korean alphabet, known as Hangul, . Hangul may also be written as following South Korea's . in and Chosŏn'gŭl in , is a writing system for the created by King in 1443. The letters for the five basic s reflect the shape of the speec ...

Hangul
. He felt that Hanja was inadequate to write Korean and that this was the cause of its very restricted use; Hangul was designed to either aid in reading Hanja or replace Hanja entirely. Introduced in the document ''
Hunminjeongeum ''Hunminjeongeum'' () is a document describing an entirely new and native script Script may refer to: Writing systems * Script, a distinctive writing system, based on a repertoire of specific elements or symbols, or that repertoire * Script ( ...
'', it was called ''eonmun'' (colloquial script) and quickly spread nationwide to increase literacy in Korea.
Hangul The Korean alphabet, known as Hangul, . Hangul may also be written as following South Korea's . in and Chosŏn'gŭl in , is a writing system for the created by King in 1443. The letters for the five basic s reflect the shape of the speec ...

Hangul
was widely used by all the Korean classes, but often treated as ''amkeul'' ("script for women") and disregarded by privileged elites, whereas
Hanja Hanja (; Hanja: , , or Hancha) is the Korean name for a traditional writing system consisting mainly of Chinese characters () that was incorporated and used since the Gojoseon period (400 BC). More specifically, it refers to the C ...

Hanja
was regarded as ''jinseo'' ("true text"). Consequently, official documents were always written in
Hanja Hanja (; Hanja: , , or Hancha) is the Korean name for a traditional writing system consisting mainly of Chinese characters () that was incorporated and used since the Gojoseon period (400 BC). More specifically, it refers to the C ...

Hanja
during the
Joseon Joseon (also transcribed as Chosŏn, ko, 대조선국; 大朝鮮國, ) was a Korean dynastic kingdom that lasted for approximately five centuries. It was the last dynastic kingdom of Korea. It was founded by in July 1392 and replaced by the ...
era. Since most people couldn't understand
Hanja Hanja (; Hanja: , , or Hancha) is the Korean name for a traditional writing system consisting mainly of Chinese characters () that was incorporated and used since the Gojoseon period (400 BC). More specifically, it refers to the C ...

Hanja
, Korean kings sometimes released public notices entirely written in
Hangul The Korean alphabet, known as Hangul, . Hangul may also be written as following South Korea's . in and Chosŏn'gŭl in , is a writing system for the created by King in 1443. The letters for the five basic s reflect the shape of the speec ...

Hangul
as early as the 16th century for all Korean classes, including uneducated peasants and slaves. By the 17th century, the elite class of
Yangban The ''Yangban'' (), were part of the traditional ruling class or gentry of dynastic Korea during the Joseon Dynasty The Joseon dynasty (also transcribed as Chosŏn or Chosun, ko, 대조선국; 大朝鮮國, ) was a Korean Korean may refer ...
exchanged Hangul letters with their slaves, suggesting a high literacy rate of
Hangul The Korean alphabet, known as Hangul, . Hangul may also be written as following South Korea's . in and Chosŏn'gŭl in , is a writing system for the created by King in 1443. The letters for the five basic s reflect the shape of the speec ...

Hangul
during the Joseon era. Today,
Hanja Hanja (; Hanja: , , or Hancha) is the Korean name for a traditional writing system consisting mainly of Chinese characters () that was incorporated and used since the Gojoseon period (400 BC). More specifically, it refers to the C ...

Hanja
is largely unused in everyday life due to its inconvenience, but it is still important for historical and linguistic studies. Neither South Korea nor North Korea opposes the learning of
Hanja Hanja (; Hanja: , , or Hancha) is the Korean name for a traditional writing system consisting mainly of Chinese characters () that was incorporated and used since the Gojoseon period (400 BC). More specifically, it refers to the C ...

Hanja
, though they are not officially used in North Korea anymore, and their usage in South Korea is mainly reserved for specific circumstances, such as newspapers, scholarly papers, and disambiguation.


Names

The Korean names for the language are based on the names for Korea used in both South Korea and North Korea. The English word "Korean" is derived from
Goryeo Goryeo (; ) was a Korea Korea (officially the "Korean Peninsula") is a region in East Asia. Since 1945 it has been Division of Korea, divided into the two parts which soon became the two sovereign states: North Korea (officially the "De ...
, which is thought to be the first Korean dynasty known to Western nations. Korean people in the
former USSR The post-Soviet states, also known as the former Soviet Union (FSU), the former Soviet Republics and in Russia Russia (russian: link=no, Россия, , ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. I ...
refer to themselves as ''
Koryo-saram Koryo-saram ( ko, 고려사람; russian: Корё сарам; uk, Корьо-сарам) is the name which ethnic Koreans in the post-Soviet states use to refer to themselves. The term is composed of two Korean words: "''Names of Korea#Goryeo, ...
'' and/or ''Koryo-in'' (literally, " Koryo/Goryeo person(s)"), and call the language ''
Koryo-mal Koryo-mal, Goryeomal, or Koryŏmal ( ko, 고려말, russian: Корё мар) is the dialect of Korean Korean may refer to: People and culture * Koreans, an ethnic group originating in the Korean Peninsula * Korean cuisine * Korean culture * ...
.'' Some older English sources also use the spelling "Corea" to refer to the nation, and its inflected form for the language, culture and people, "Korea" becoming more popular in the late 1800s.According to Google's NGram English corpus of 2015, In South Korea, the Korean language is referred to by many names including ''hanguk-eo'' ("Korean language"), ''hanguk-mal'' ("Korean speech") and ''uri-mal'' ("our language"); "''hanguk''" is taken from the name of the
Korean Empire The Korean Empire (transcribed as ''Daehan Jeguk'', , ) was a Korea Korea (officially the "Korean Peninsula") is a region in East Asia. Since 1945 it has been Division of Korea, divided into the two parts which soon became the two sover ...
(). The "''han''" (韓) in ''Hanguk'' and ''Daehan Jeguk'' is derived from
Samhan Samhan, or Three Han, is the collective name of the , , and confederacies that emerged in the first century BC during the , or Samhan, period. Located in the central and southern regions of the , the Samhan confederacies eventually merged and d ...

Samhan
, in reference to the
Three Kingdoms of Korea The Three Kingdoms of Korea () refers to the three kingdoms of Goguryeo Goguryeo (; , 37 BC–668 AD), also called Goryeo (; ), was a Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the and the southern and central parts of ...
(not the ancient confederacies in the southern Korean Peninsula), while "''-eo''" and "''-mal''" mean "language" and "speech", respectively. Korean is also simply referred to as ''guk-eo'', literally "national language". This name is based on the same
Han characters Chinese characters, also called ''Hanzi'' (), are logograms developed for the writing of Chinese. They have been adapted to write other East-Asian languages, and remain a key component of the Japanese writing system The modern Jap ...

Han characters
(國語 "nation" + "language") that are also used in
Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and N ...

Taiwan
and Japan to refer to their respective national languages. In North Korea and
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It is the world's , with a of more than 1.4 billion. China spans five geographical and 14 different countries, the in the world after . Covering an area of ap ...

China
, the language is most often called ''Joseon-mal'', or more formally, ''Joseon-o''. This is taken from the North Korean name for Korea (Joseon), a name retained from the
Joseon dynasty Joseon (also transcribed as Chosŏn, ko, 대조선국; 大朝鮮國, ) was a Korean dynastic kingdom that lasted for approximately five centuries. It was the last dynastic kingdom of Korea. It was founded by Yi Seong-gye in July 1392 and repl ...
until the proclamation of the
Korean Empire The Korean Empire (transcribed as ''Daehan Jeguk'', , ) was a Korea Korea (officially the "Korean Peninsula") is a region in East Asia. Since 1945 it has been Division of Korea, divided into the two parts which soon became the two sover ...
, which in turn was annexed by the
Empire of Japan The was a historical and that existed from the in 1868 until the enactment of the post-World War II and subsequent formation of modern . It encompassed the and several , s, , and other . Under the slogans of and Japan underwent ...

Empire of Japan
. In
mainland China The term "mainland China" refers to the area directly governed by the People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies b ...

mainland China
, following the establishment of diplomatic relations with South Korea in 1992, the term ''Cháoxiǎnyǔ'' or the short form ''Cháoyǔ'' has normally been used to refer to the standard language of North Korea and
Yanbian Yanbian (; Chosŏn'gŭl: , ''Yŏnbyŏn'') is an autonomous prefecture Autonomous prefectures () are one type of autonomous administrative divisions of China, existing at the prefectural level, with either ethnic minorities A minority grou ...
, whereas ''Hánguóyǔ'' or the short form ''Hányǔ'' is used to refer to the standard language of South Korea.


Classification

Korean is considered by most
linguists Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include phonetics, phonet ...
to be a
language isolate A language isolate is a language that is unrelated to any others. In the absolute sense, it is a natural language with no demonstrable genealogical (or "genetic") relationship—one that has not been demonstrated to descend from an ancestor comm ...
or, if Jeju is recognized as a separate language, as belonging to a small
Koreanic Koreanic is a compact language family consisting of Korean language, Korean and the Jeju language. The latter is often described as a dialect of Korean, but is distinct enough to be considered a separate language. A few scholars suggest that the ...
family. Some linguists have included it in the
Altaic Altaic (; also called Transeurasian) is a ''sprachbund'' (i.e. a linguistic area) and proposed language family that would include the Turkic languages, Turkic, Mongolic languages, Mongolian and Tungusic languages, Tungusic language families and ...
family, but the core Altaic proposal itself has lost most of its prior support. The
Khitan language Khitan or Kitan ( in large script or in small Small may refer to: Science and technology * SMALL Small may refer to: Science and technology * SMALL, an ALGOL-like programming language * Small (anatomy), the lumbar region of the back * Small ...
has several vocabulary items similar to Korean that are not found in other Mongolian or Tungusic languages, suggesting a Korean influence on Khitan. The hypothesis that Korean could be related to
Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat = Imperial Seal of J ...

Japanese
has had some supporters due to some overlap in vocabulary and similar grammatical features that have been elaborated upon by such researchers as Samuel E. Martin and
Roy Andrew Miller Roy Andrew Miller (September 5, 1924 – August 22, 2014) was an best known as the author of several books on and linguistics, and for his advocacy of and Japanese as members of the proposed . Biography Miller was born in , , on Septe ...
. Sergei Anatolyevich Starostin (1991) found about 25% of potential
cognate In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
s in the Japanese–Korean 100-word
Swadesh list The Swadesh list ("Swadesh" is pronounced ) is a classic compilation of tentatively universal concepts for the purposes of lexicostatistics. Translations of the Swadesh list into a set of languages allow researchers to quantify the interrelatedness ...
. Some linguists concerned with the issue between Japanese and Korean, including Alexander Vovin, have argued that the indicated similarities are not due to any genetic relationship, but rather to a ''
sprachbund A sprachbund (, lit. "language federation"), also known as a linguistic area, area of linguistic convergence, diffusion area or language crossroads, is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, inc ...
'' effect and heavy borrowing, especially from Ancient Korean into Western
Old Japanese is the oldest attested stage of the Japanese language, recorded in documents from the Nara period The of the history of Japan The first human inhabitants of the Japanese archipelago The Japanese archipelago (Japanese: 日本列島, ...
. A good example might be
Middle Korean Middle Korean is the period in the history of the Korean language Korean ( /, ''hangugeo''; /, ''chosŏnmal'') is an Languages of East Asia, East Asian language spoken by about 77 million people. It is the official language, official and natio ...
''sàm'' and Japanese ''asá'', meaning "
hemp Hemp, or industrial hemp, is a botanical class of ''Cannabis sativa ''Cannabis sativa'' is an annual herbaceous flowering plant The flowering plants, also known as Angiospermae (), or Magnoliophyta (), are the most diverse group of Embry ...
". This word seems to be a cognate, but although it is well attested in Western Old Japanese and
Northern Ryukyuan languages The Northern Ryukyuan languages are a group of languages spoken in the Amami Islands, Kagoshima Prefecture and the Okinawa Islands, Okinawa Prefecture of southwestern Japan. It is one of two primary branches of the Ryukyuan languages, which are the ...
, in Eastern Old Japanese it only occurs in compounds, and it is only present in three dialects of the Southern Ryukyuan language group. Also, the doublet ''wo'' meaning "hemp" is attested in Western Old Japanese and Southern Ryukyuan languages. It is thus plausible to assume a borrowed term. (See
Classification of the Japonic languages The classification of the Japonic languages and their external relations is unclear. Linguists traditionally consider the Japonic languages Japonic or Japanese–Ryukyuan is a language family A language is a structured system of communic ...
or Comparison of Japanese and Korean for further details on a possible relationship.) Another lesser-known theory is the Dravido-Korean languages theory which suggests a relation with the
Dravidian languages Dravidian languages (or sometimes Dravidic languages) are a family of languages spoken by 220 million people, mainly in southern India and north-east Sri Lanka, with pockets elsewhere in South Asia. Since the colonial era, there have been smal ...
of India. Some of the common features in Korean and the Dravidian languages are that they share some similar vocabulary, are agglutinative, and follow the subject-object-verb order; in both languages, nominals and adjectives follow the same syntax, particles are post-positional, and modifiers always precede modified words. However, typological similarities such as these could have arisen by chance.


Phonology


Consonants

The
IPA IPA commonly refers to: * India pale ale, a style of beer * International Phonetic Alphabet The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an alphabetic system of phonetic notation based primarily on the Latin script Latin script, also ...
symbol (a subscript double straight quotation mark, shown here with a placeholder circle) is used to denote the Tensed consonants . Its official use in the
Extensions to the IPA The extensions to the International Phonetic Alphabet, also extIPA symbols for disordered speech or simply extIPA , are a set of letters and diacritics devised by the International Clinical Phonetics and Linguistics Association to augment the In ...
is for 'strong' articulation, but is used in the literature for faucalized voice. The Korean consonants also have elements of
stiff voice The term stiff voice describes the pronunciation of consonants or vowels with a glottal opening narrower, and the vocal folds In humans, vocal cords, also known as vocal chords, vocal folds or voice reeds, are folds of tissue in the throat th ...
, but it is not yet known how typical this is of faucalized consonants. They are produced with a partially constricted
glottis The glottis is the opening between the vocal folds In humans, vocal cords, also known as vocal chords, vocal folds or voice reeds, are folds of tissue in the throat that are key in creating sounds through vocalization. The size of vocal cor ...
and additional subglottal pressure in addition to tense vocal tract walls, laryngeal lowering, or other expansion of the larynx. Korean syllable structure is (C)(G)V(C), consisting of an optional onset consonant, glide and final coda surrounding a core vowel.


Vowels

is closer to a
near-open central vowel The near-open central vowel, or near-low central vowel, is a type of vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of speech sounds, the oth ...
(), though is still used for tradition.


Allophones

is aspirated and becomes an
alveolo-palatal In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical ...
before or for most speakers (but see
North–South differences in the Korean language The Korean language Korean ( , ''hangugeo''; , ''chosŏnmal'') is an East Asian language spoken by about 80 million people, mainly Koreans, Korean, as of 2020. It is the official language, official and national language of both North Korea ...
). This occurs with the tense fricative and all the affricates as well. At the end of a syllable, changes to (example: beoseot () 'mushroom'). may become a
bilabial In phonetics, a bilabial consonant is a labial consonant place of articulation, articulated with both lips. Transcription The bilabial consonants identified by the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) are: Owere Igbo language, Igbo has a six-wa ...

bilabial
before or , a
palatal The palate is the roof of the mouth in humans and other mammal Mammals (from Latin language, Latin , 'breast') are a group of vertebrate animals constituting the class (biology), class Mammalia (), and characterized by the presence of ma ...

palatal
before or , a
velar Velars are consonants place of articulation, articulated with the back part of the tongue (the dorsum) against the soft palate, the back part of the roof of the mouth (known also as the Soft palate, velum). Since the velar region of the roof of ...
before , a voiced between voiced sounds, and a elsewhere. become voiced between voiced sounds. frequently denasalize at the beginnings of words. becomes alveolar flap between vowels, and or at the end of a syllable or next to another . Note that a written syllable-final '', when followed by a vowel or a glide (''i.e.'', when the next character starts with ''), migrates to the next syllable and thus becomes . Traditionally, was disallowed at the beginning of a word. It disappeared before , and otherwise became . However, the inflow of western
loanwords A loanword (also loan word or loan-word) is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning ...
changed the trend, and now word-initial (mostly from English loanwords) are pronounced as a free variation of either or . The traditional prohibition of word-initial became a morphological rule called "initial law" () in South Korea, which pertains to Sino-Korean vocabulary. Such words retain their word-initial in North Korea. All
obstruentAn obstruent () is a speech sound such as , , or that is formed by ''obstructing'' airflow. Obstruents contrast with sonorant In phonetics and phonology, a sonorant or resonant is a speech sound that is manner of articulation, produced with continuo ...
s (plosives, affricates, fricatives) at the end of a word are pronounced with
no audible release A stop with no audible release, also known as an unreleased stop or an applosive, is a stop consonant In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, t ...
, . Plosive stops become nasal stops before nasal stops.
Hangul The Korean alphabet, known as Hangul, . Hangul may also be written as following South Korea's . in and Chosŏn'gŭl in , is a writing system for the created by King in 1443. The letters for the five basic s reflect the shape of the speec ...

Hangul
spelling does not reflect these assimilatory pronunciation rules, but rather maintains the underlying, partly historical
morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines * Morphology (archaeology), study of the shapes or forms of artifacts * Morphology (astronomy), study of the shape of astronomical objects such as nebulae, galaxies ...
. Given this, it is sometimes hard to tell which actual phonemes are present in a certain word. One difference between the pronunciation standards of North and South Korea is the treatment of initial , and initial . For example, * "labor" – north: ''rodong'' (), south: ''nodong'' () * "history" – north: ''ryeoksa'' (), south: ''yeoksa'' () * "female" – north: ''nyeoja'' (), south: ''yeoja'' ()


Morphophonemics

Grammatical
morphemes A morpheme is the smallest meaningful lexical itemIn lexicography, a lexical item (or lexical unit / LU, lexical entry) is a single word, a part of a word, or a chain of words ( catena) that forms the basic elements of a language's lexicon A l ...
may change shape depending on the preceding sounds. Examples include ''-eun/-neun'' () and ''-i/-ga'' (). Sometimes sounds may be inserted instead. Examples include ''-eul/-reul'' (), ''-euro/-ro'' (), ''-eseo/-seo'' (), ''-ideunji/-deunji'' () and ''-iya/-ya'' (). * However, ''-euro/-ro'' is somewhat irregular, since it will behave differently after a (rieul consonant). Some verbs may also change shape morphophonemically.


Grammar

Korean is an
agglutinative language An agglutinative language is a type of synthetic language A synthetic language uses inflection In linguistic morphology, inflection (or inflexion) is a process of word formation, in which a word is modified to express different grammatica ...
. The Korean language is traditionally considered to have nine parts of speech. Modifiers generally precede the modified words, and in the case of verb modifiers, can be serially appended. The basic form of a Korean sentence is
subject–object–verb In linguistic typology Linguistic typology (or language typology) is a field of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for ...
, but the verb is the only required and immovable element and
word order In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languag ...
is highly flexible, as in many other agglutinative languages. The relationship between a speaker/writer and their subject and audience is paramount in Korean grammar. The relationship between the speaker/writer and subject referent is reflected in ''honorifics'', whereas that between speaker/writer and audience is reflected in ''Korean speech levels, speech level''.


Honorifics

When talking about someone superior in status, a speaker or writer usually uses special nouns or verb endings to indicate the subject's superiority. Generally, someone is superior in status if they are an older relative, a stranger of roughly equal or greater age, or an employer, teacher, customer, or the like. Someone is equal or inferior in status if they are a younger stranger, student, employee, or the like. Nowadays, there are special endings which can be used on declarative, interrogative, and imperative sentences; and both honorific or normal sentences. Honorifics in traditional Korea were strictly hierarchical. The caste and estate systems possessed patterns and usages much more complex and stratified than those used today. The intricate structure of the Korean honorific system flourished in traditional culture and society. Honorifics in contemporary Korea are now used for people who are psychologically distant. Honorifics are also used for people who are superior in status. For example, older people, teachers, and employers.


Speech levels

There are seven verb paradigms or Korean speech levels, ''speech levels'' in Korean, and each level has its own unique set of verb endings which are used to indicate the level of formality of a situation. Unlike honorifics—which are used to show respect towards the referent (the person spoken of) —''speech levels'' are used to show respect towards a speaker's or writer's audience (the person spoken to). The names of the seven levels are derived from the non-honorific Imperative mood, imperative form of the verb (''hada'', "do") in each level, plus the suffix ("che",
Hanja Hanja (; Hanja: , , or Hancha) is the Korean name for a traditional writing system consisting mainly of Chinese characters () that was incorporated and used since the Gojoseon period (400 BC). More specifically, it refers to the C ...

Hanja
: ), which means "style". The three levels with high politeness (very formally polite, formally polite, casually polite) are generally grouped together as ''jondaenmal'' (), whereas the two levels with low politeness (formally impolite, casually impolite) are ''banmal'' () in Korean. The remaining two levels (neutral formality with neutral politeness, high formality with neutral politeness) are neither polite nor impolite. Nowadays, younger-generation speakers no longer feel obligated to lower their usual regard toward the referent. It is common to see younger people talk to their older relatives with banmal (). This is not out of disrespect, but instead it shows the intimacy and the closeness of the relationship between the two speakers. Transformations in social structures and attitudes in today's rapidly changing society have brought about change in the way people speak.


Gender

In general, Korean lacks grammatical gender. As one of the few exceptions, the third-person singular pronoun has two different forms: 그 ''geu'' (male) and 그녀 ''geunyeo'' (female). Before 그녀 was invented in need of translating 'she' into Korean, 그 was the only one third-person singular pronoun, and had no grammatical gender. In order to have a more complete understanding of intricacies of gender within the Korean language, we can look at the three models of language and gender that have been proposed: the deficit model, the dominance model, and the cultural difference model. In the deficit model, male speech is seen as the default, and any form of speech that diverges from this norm (female speech) is seen as lesser than. The dominance model sees women as lacking in power due to living within a patriarchal society. The cultural difference model proposes that the difference in upbringing between men and women can explain the differences in their speech patterns. It is important to look at these models so that one can better understand the misogynistic conditions that shaped the way men and women use the Korean language. Korean is different from most European languages in that there is no grammatical gender. Rather, gendered differences in Korean can be observed through formality, intonation, word choice, etc. However, one can still find stronger contrasts between the sexes within Korean speech. Some examples of this can be seen in: (1) softer tone used by women in speech; (2) a married woman introducing herself as someone's mother or wife, not with her own name; (3) the presence of gender differences in titles and occupational terms (for example, a ''sajang'' is a company president and ''yŏsajang'' is a female company president.); (4) females sometimes using more tag questions and rising tones in statements, also seen in speech from children. Between two people of asymmetrical status in a Korean society, people tend to emphasize differences in status for the sake of solidarity. Koreans prefer to use kinship terms, rather than any other terms of reference. In traditional Korean society, women have long been in disadvantaged positions. Korean social structure traditionally was a patriarchically dominated family system that emphasized the maintenance of family lines. This structure has tended to separate the roles of women from those of men. Cho and Whitman (2019) explain that the different categories like male and female in social conditions influence the Korean language features. What they noticed was the word "Jagi (자기)". Before explaining the word "Jagi (자기)", one thing that needs to be clearly distinguished is that "Jagi (자기)" can be used in a variety of situations, not all of which mean the same thing, but it depends on the context. Parallel variable solidarity and affection move the convention of speech style, especially terms of address that Jagi (자기 'you') has emerged as a gender-specific second-person pronoun used by women. However, unlike the preceding, young Koreans use the word "Jagi (자기)" to their lovers or spouses regardless of gender. Among middle-aged women, the word "Jagi (자기)" is sometimes used when calling someone who is close to them. Korean society's prevalent attitude towards men being in public (outside the home) and women living in private still exists today. For instance, the word for ''husband'' is bakkath, yangban (바깥양반 'outside' 'nobleman') whereas a husband introduces his wife as an, salam (안사람 an 'inside' 'person'). Also in Kinship terminology, Oy (외 'outside' or 'wrong') is added for maternal grandparents, creating oy-hal-abeoji and oy-hal-meoni (외할아버지, 외할머니 'grandfather and grandmother') to different lexicons for males and females, reveal patriarchal society. Further, questioning sentences to an addressee of equal or lower status, Korean men tend to use 'haessnya (했냐? 'did it?’)' in aggressive masculinity, whereas women use 'haessni (했니? 'did it?’)' as a soft expression.Brown, L. (2015). Expressive, Social and Gendered Meanings of Korean Honorifics. Korean Linguistics, 17(2), 242-266. https://doi.org/10.1075/kl.17.2.04bro However, not all of the foregoing are correct. If we observe how Korean society used the question endings '-ni (니)' and '-nya (냐)', the ending '-ni (니)' prevailed not only among women but also among men until a few decades ago. In fact, '-nya (냐)' was a characteristic that was observed in Jeolla and Chungcheong dialects. However, since the 50s, large numbers of people have moved to Seoul from Chungcheong and Jeolla, and as a result, they began to influence the way men speak. Recently, women, regardless of gender, also use the term '-nya (냐)'. To sum up, in the case of '-ni (니)', even if you are not close or younger than yourself, it is usually used for people who need to be polite, and in the case of '-nya (냐)', it is used mainly for close friends regardless of gender. Korea is a patriarchal society that had a negative attitude toward women, so a female prefix was added to the default lexicon, including terms for titles and occupations. For instance, Sino Korean terms 'female' in SK morpheme yeo (여) 'women,’ used in yeoseong-siin (여성 시인 'female poet') and yeo-biseo (여비서 'female secretary'). The male prefix adds the negligence lexicon, including discriminatory terms for women. For example, for female for yeo-seongmi (여성미 ‘ female beauty') is social terms referring to human physical characteristics. Another crucial difference between genders of men and women is the tone and pitch of their voices and how that affects the perception of politeness. Upspeak Men learn to use an authoritative falling tone, and in Korean culture a deeper voice is associated with being more polite. In addition to the deferential speech endings being used, men are seen as more polite as well as impartial and professional. When compared to women who use a rising tone in conjunction with the -yo (요) ending, they are not perceived to be as polite as men. The -yo (요) ending also indicates uncertainty due to how this ending has many prefixes which indicate uncertainty and questioning. While the deferential ending does not have any prefixes which can indicate uncertainty. The -habnida (합니다) ending is the most polite and formal form of Korea, while the -yo (요) ending is less polite and formal which is where the perception of women being less professional originates from.Cho, Young A. ''Gender Differences in Korean Speech.'' Korean Language in Culture and Society. Ed. Ho-min Sohn. University of Hawaii Press, 2006. pp. 193-195. Hedges soften an assertion and its function as a euphemism in women's speech in terms of discourse difference. Women expected to add nasal sounds, neyng, neym, ney-ey, more frequently than men at the last syllable. The sound L is often added in women's for female stereotypes that igeolo (이거로 'this thing') become igeollo (이걸로 'this thing') to refer a lack of confidence and passive construction. Women use more linguistic markers such as exclamation eomeo (어머 'oh') and eojjeom (어쩜 'what a surprise') to cooperative communication.


Vocabulary


Sino-Korean

The core of the Korean vocabulary is made up of ''native Korean'' words. However, a significant proportion of the vocabulary, especially words that denote abstract ideas, are Sino-Korean vocabulary, ''Sino-Korean'' words (of Chinese origin),Sohn, Ho-Min. ''The Korean Language'' (Section 1.5.3 "Korean vocabulary", pp. 12–13), Cambridge University Press, 2001. . either: * Borrowed words, directly borrowed from written Chinese, or * coined in Korea or Japan using
Chinese characters Chinese characters, also called ''hanzi'' (), are logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language by means of a writing system. Written language is an invention in that it ...
. Most of the vocabulary consists of these two sets of words: native Korean and Sino-Korean. Therefore, just like other words, Korean has Korean numerals, two sets of numeral systems. English is similar, having native English words and Latinate equivalents such as ''water-aqua'', ''fire-flame'', ''sea-marine'', ''two-dual'', ''sun-solar'', ''star-stellar''. However, unlike English and Latin which belong to the same Indo-European languages family and bear a certain resemblance, Korean and Chinese are Genetic relationship (linguistics), genetically unrelated and the two sets of Korean words differ completely from each other. All Sino-Korean morphemes are Monosyllabic language, monosyllabic as in Chinese, whereas native Korean morphemes can be polysyllabic. The Sino-Korean words were deliberately imported alongside corresponding Chinese characters for a written language and everything was supposed to be written in Hanja, so the coexistence of Sino-Korean would be more thorough and systematic than that of Latinate words in English. To a much lesser extent, some words have also been borrowed from Mongolian language, Mongolian and other languages. The exact proportion of Sino-Korean vocabulary is a matter of debate. Sohn (2001) stated 50–60%. Later, the same author (2006, p. 5) gives an even higher estimate of 65%. Jeong Jae-do, one of the compilers of the dictionary ''Urimal Keun Sajeon'', asserts that the proportion is not so high. He points out that Korean dictionaries compiled during the Korea under Japanese rule, colonial period include many unused Sino-Korean words. In his estimation, the proportion of Sino-Korean vocabulary in the Korean language might be as low as 30%.


Western loanwords

The vast majority of Loanword, loanwords other than Sino-Korean come from modern times, approximately 90% of which are from English language, English. Many words have also been borrowed from European languages, Western languages such as German language, German via
Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat = Imperial Seal of J ...

Japanese
( (''wikt:アルバイト, areubaiteu'') "part-time job", (''allereugi'') "allergy", (''gibseu'' or ''gibuseu'') "plaster cast used for broken bones"). Some Western words were borrowed indirectly via Japanese during the Korea under Japanese rule, Japanese occupation of Korea, taking a Japanese sound pattern, for example "dozen" > ''dāsu'' > ''daseu''. Most indirect Western borrowings are now written according to current "Hangulization" rules for the respective Western language, as if borrowed directly. There are a few more complicated borrowings such as "German(y)" (see Names of Germany#Korean, names of Germany), the first part of whose Exonym and endonym, endonym ''Deutschland'' the Japanese approximated using the kanji ''doitsu'' that were then accepted into the Korean language by their Sino-Korean pronunciation:  ''dok'' +  ''il'' = ''wikt:독일, Dogil''. In South Korean official use, a number of other Sino-Korean country names have been replaced with phonetically oriented "Hangeulizations" of the countries' endonyms or English names. Because of such a prevalence of English in modern South Korean culture and society, lexical borrowing is inevitable. English-derived Korean, or "Konglish" (), is increasingly used. The vocabulary of the South Korean dialect of the Korean language is roughly 5% loanwords (excluding Sino-Korean vocabulary). However, due to North Korea's isolation, such influence is lacking in North Korean speech. Korean uses words adapted from English in ways that may seem strange or unintuitive to native English speakers. For example, ''fighting'' ( ''hwaiting'' / ''paiting'') is a term of encouragement, like 'come on'/'go (on)' in English. Something that is 'service' ( ''seobiseu'') is free or 'on the house'. A building referred to as an 'apart' ( ''apateu'') is an 'apartment' (but in fact refers to a residence more akin to a condominium) and a type of pencil that is called a 'sharp' () is a mechanical pencil. Like other borrowings, many of these idiosyncrasies, including all the examples listed above, appear to be imported into Korean via Japanese, or influenced by Japanese. Many English words introduced via Japanese pronunciation have been reformed, as in 멜론 (melon) which was once called 메론 (meron) as in Japanese.


North Korea

North–South differences in the Korean language, North Korean vocabulary shows a tendency to prefer native Korean over Sino-Korean or foreign borrowings, especially with recent political objectives aimed at eliminating foreign influences on the Korean language in the North Korea, North. In the early years, the North Korean government tried to eliminate Sino-Korean words. Consequently, South Korean may have several Sino-Korean or foreign borrowings which are not in North Korean.


Writing system

Before the creation of Hangul, the modern Korean alphabet, known as Chosŏn'gŭl in North Korea and as Hangul in South Korea, people in Korea (known as
Joseon Joseon (also transcribed as Chosŏn, ko, 대조선국; 大朝鮮國, ) was a Korean dynastic kingdom that lasted for approximately five centuries. It was the last dynastic kingdom of Korea. It was founded by in July 1392 and replaced by the ...
at the time) primarily wrote using
Classical Chinese Classical Chinese, also known as Literary Chinese (古文 ''gǔwén'' "ancient text", or 文言 ''wényán'' "text speak"; modern vernacular: 文言文 ''wényánwén'' "text speak text"), is the language of the classic literature from the end ...
alongside native phonetic writing systems that predate Hangul by hundreds of years, including Idu script, idu, hyangchal, gugyeol, and gakpil. However, due to the fundamental differences between the Korean and Chinese languages and the large number of characters to be learned, the lower classes, who often didn't have the privilege of education, had much difficulty in learning how to write using Chinese characters. To assuage this problem, Sejong the Great, King Sejong () created the unique alphabet known as Hangul to promote literacy among the common people. The Korean alphabet was denounced and looked down upon by the ''yangban'' aristocracy, who deemed it too easy to learn, but it gained widespread use among the common class, and was widely used to print popular novels which were enjoyed by the common class. With growing Korean nationalism in the 19th century, the Gabo Reform, Gabo Reformists' push, and the promotion of Hangul in schools, in 1894, Hangul displaced
Hanja Hanja (; Hanja: , , or Hancha) is the Korean name for a traditional writing system consisting mainly of Chinese characters () that was incorporated and used since the Gojoseon period (400 BC). More specifically, it refers to the C ...

Hanja
as Korea's national script. Hanja are still used to a certain extent in South Korea, where they are sometimes combined with Hangul, but this method is slowly declining in use, even though students learn Hanja in school.


Symbol chart

Below is a chart of the Korean alphabet's (
Hangul The Korean alphabet, known as Hangul, . Hangul may also be written as following South Korea's . in and Chosŏn'gŭl in , is a writing system for the created by King in 1443. The letters for the five basic s reflect the shape of the speec ...

Hangul
) symbols and their Revised Romanization of Korean, Revised Romanization (RR) and canonical International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) values: The letters of the Korean alphabet are not written linearly like most alphabets, but instead arranged into blocks that represent Syllable, syllables. So, while the word ''bibimbap'' (Korean rice dish) is written as eight characters in a row in the Latin alphabet, in Korean it is written 비빔밥, as three "syllabic blocks" in a row. ''Mukbang ('' 'eating show') is seven characters after romanization but only two "syllabic blocks" before. Modern Korean is written with spaces between words, a feature not found in Chinese or Japanese (except when Japanese is written exclusively in hiragana, as in children's books). The Punctuation mark, marks used for Korean punctuation are almost identical to Western ones. Traditionally, Korean was written in columns, from top to bottom, right to left, like traditional Chinese. However, the syllabic blocks are now usually written in rows, from left to right, top to bottom, like English.


Dialects

Korean has numerous small local dialects (called ''mal'' () [literally 'speech'], ''saturi'' (), or ''bang'eon'' (). The standard language (''pyojun-eo'' or ''pyojun-mal'') of both South Korea and North Korea is based on the dialect of the area around Seoul (which, as Hanyang, was the capital of Joseon Dynasty, Joseon-era Korea for 500 years), though the northern standard after the
Korean War The Korean War (see § Names) was a war fought between North Korea North Korea (Korean language, Korean: /, McCune–Reischauer, MR: ''Chosŏn''; literally /, McCune–Reischauer, MR: ''Pukchosŏn'', or /, Revised Romanization ...

Korean War
has been influenced by the dialect of Pyongyang, P'yŏngyang. All dialects of Korean are similar to each other and largely
mutually intelligible In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include p ...
(with the exception of dialect-specific phrases or non-Standard vocabulary unique to dialects), though the Jeju dialect, dialect of Jeju Island is divergent enough to be sometimes classified as a separate language. One of the more salient differences between dialects is the use of tone: speakers of the Seoul dialect make use of vowel length, whereas speakers of the Gyeongsang dialect maintain the Pitch-accent language, pitch accent of Middle Korean. Some dialects are conservative, maintaining Middle Korean sounds (such as ''z, β, ə'') which have been lost from the standard language, whereas others are highly innovative. Kang Yoon-jung et al. (2013), Kim Mi-ryoung (2013), and Cho Sung-hye (2017) suggest that the modern Seoul dialect is currently undergoing tonogenesis, based on the finding that in recent years Fortis and lenis, lenis consonants (ㅂㅈㄷㄱ), aspirated consonants (ㅍㅊㅌㅋ) and fortis consonants (ㅃㅉㄸㄲ) were shifting from a distinction via voice onset time to that of pitch change; however, Choi Ji-youn et al. (2020) disagree with the suggestion that the consonant distinction shifting away from voice onset time is due to the introduction of tonal features, and instead proposes that it is a Prosody (linguistics), prosodically-conditioned change. There is substantial evidence for a history of extensive dialect levelling, or even convergent evolution or intermixture of two or more originally distinct linguistic stocks, within the Korean language and its dialects. Many Korean dialects have basic vocabulary that is etymologically distinct from vocabulary of identical meaning in Standard Korean or other dialects, for example "garlic chives" translated into Gyeongsang dialect (; ''jeongguji'') but in Standard Korean, it is (; ''buchu''). This suggests that the Korean Peninsula may have at one time been much more linguistically diverse than it is at present. See also the Japanese–Koguryoic languages hypothesis. Nonetheless, the separation of the two Korean states has resulted in increasing differences among the dialects that have emerged over time. Since the allies of the newly founded nations split the Korean peninsula in half after 1945, the newly formed Korean nations have since borrowed vocabulary extensively from their respective allies. As the Soviet Union helped industrialize North Korea and establish it as a communist state, the North Koreans therefore borrowed a number of Russian terms. Likewise, since the United States helped South Korea extensively to develop militarily, economically, and politically, South Koreans therefore borrowed extensively from English. The differences among northern and southern dialects have become so significant that many North Korean defectors reportedly have had great difficulty communicating with South Koreans after having initially settled into South Korea. In response to the diverging vocabularies, an app called Univoca was designed to help North Korean defectors learn South Korean terms by translating them into North Korean ones. More information can be found on the page North–South differences in the Korean language, North-South differences in the Korean language. Aside from the standard language, there are few clear boundaries between Korean dialects, and they are typically partially grouped according to the regions of Korea. Recently, both North and South Korea's usage rate of the regional dialect have been decreasing due to social factors. In North Korea, the central government is urging its citizens to use Munhwaŏ (the standard language of North Korea), to deter the usage of foreign language and Chinese characters: Kim Jong-un said in a speech "if your language in life is cultural and polite, you can achieve harmony and comradely unity among people." In South Korea, due to relocation in the population to Seoul to find jobs and the usage of standard language in education and media, the prevalence of regional dialects has decreased. Moreover, internationally, due to the increasing popularity of K-pop, the Seoul standard language has become more widely taught and used.


Differences between North Korean and South Korean

The language used in the North and the South exhibit differences in pronunciation, spelling, grammar and vocabulary.


Pronunciation

In North Korea, Palatalization (sound change), palatalization of is optional, and can be pronounced between vowels. Words that are written the same way may be pronounced differently (such as the examples below). The pronunciations below are given in Revised Romanization of Korean, Revised Romanization, McCune–Reischauer and modified
Hangul The Korean alphabet, known as Hangul, . Hangul may also be written as following South Korea's . in and Chosŏn'gŭl in , is a writing system for the created by King in 1443. The letters for the five basic s reflect the shape of the speec ...

Hangul
(what the Korean characters would be if one were to write the word as pronounced). * In the North, similar pronunciation is used whenever the hanja "" is attached to a Sino-Korean word ending in , or . * In the South, this rule only applies when it is attached to any single-character Sino-Korean word.


Spelling

Some words are spelled differently by the North and the South, but the pronunciations are the same.


Spelling and pronunciation

Some words have different spellings and pronunciations in the North and the South. Most of the official languages of North Korea are from the northwest (Pyongan dialect, Pyeongan dialect), and the standard language of South Korea is the standard language (Seoul language close to Gyeonggi dialect). some of which were given in the "Phonology" section above: In general, when transcribing place names, North Korea tends to use the pronunciation in the original language more than South Korea, which often uses the pronunciation in English. For example:


Grammar

Some grammatical constructions are also different:


Vocabulary

Some vocabulary is different between the North and the South:


Punctuation

In the North, guillemets ( and ) are the symbols used for Quote marks, quotes; in the South, quotation marks equivalent to the English ones ( and ) are standard (although and are also used).


Geographic distribution

Korean is spoken by the Koreans, Korean people in both South Korea and North Korea, and by the Korean diaspora in many countries including the China, People's Republic of China, the United States, Japan, and
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of Europe. There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly becau ...

Russia
. Currently, Korean is the fourth most popular foreign language in China, following English, Japanese, and Russian. Korean-speaking minorities exist in these states, but because of cultural assimilation into host countries, not all ethnic Koreans may speak it with native fluency.


Official status

Korean is the official language of South Korea and North Korea. It, along with Mandarin Chinese, is also one of the two official languages of China's
Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture Yanbian ( zh, s=延边, t=延邊, p=Yánbiān; Hangul, Chosŏn'gŭl: , ''Yeonbyeon''; Hangul: '', Yenbyen''), officially known as the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, is an autonomous prefecture in the east of Jilin, Jilin Province, China ...
. In North Korea, the regulatory body is the Language Institute of the Academy of Social Sciences (, ''Sahoe Gwahagweon Eohag Yeonguso''). In South Korea, the regulatory body for Korean is the Seoul-based National Institute of the Korean Language, which was created by presidential decree on 23 January 1991.


King Sejong Institute

Established pursuant to Article 9, Section 2, of the Framework Act on the National Language, the King Sejong Institute is a public institution set up to coordinate the government's project of propagating Korean language and culture; it also supports the King Sejong Institute, which is the institution's overseas branch. The King Sejong Institute was established in response to: * An increase in the demand for Korean language education; * a rapid increase in Korean language education thanks to the spread of the culture (''hallyu''), an increase in international marriage, the expansion of Korean enterprises into overseas markets, and enforcement of employment licensing system; * the need for a government-sanctioned Korean language educational institution; * the need for general support for overseas Korean language education based on a successful domestic language education program.


Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK) Korea Institute

The TOPIK Korea Institute is a lifelong educational center affiliated with a variety of Korean universities in Seoul, South Korea, whose aim is to promote Korean language and culture, support local Korean teaching internationally, and facilitate cultural exchanges. The institute is sometimes compared to language and culture promotion organizations such as the King Sejong Institute. Unlike that organization, however, the TOPIK Korea Institute operates within established universities and colleges around the world, providing educational materials. In countries around the world, Korean embassies and cultural centers (한국문화원) administer TOPIK examinations.


As a foreign language

For native English speakers, Korean is generally considered to be one of the most difficult Foreign language, foreign languages to master despite the relative ease of learning Hangul. For instance, the United States' Defense Language Institute places Korean in Category IV with
Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat = Imperial Seal of J ...

Japanese
, Chinese language, Chinese (Standard Mandarin, Mandarin and Cantonese language, Cantonese), and Arabic, requiring 64 weeks of instruction (as compared to just 26 weeks for Category I languages like Italian language, Italian, French language, French, and Spanish language, Spanish) to bring an English-speaking student to a limited working level of proficiency in which they have "sufficient capability to meet routine social demands and limited job requirements" and "can deal with concrete topics in past, present, and future tense." Similarly, the Foreign Service Institute's School of Language Studies places Korean in Category IV, the highest level of difficulty. The study of the Korean language in the United States is dominated by Korean American heritage language learning, heritage language students; in 2007 they were estimated to form over 80% of all students of the language at non-military universities. However, Sejong Institutes in the United States have noted a sharp rise in the number of people of other ethnic backgrounds studying Korean between 2009 and 2011; they attribute this to Korean Wave, rising popularity of K-Pop, South Korean music and Korean drama, television shows. In 2018 it was reported that the rise in K-Pop was responsible for the increase in people learning the language in US universities. There are two widely used tests of Korean as a foreign language: the Korean Language Proficiency Test (KLPT) and the Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK). The Korean Language Proficiency Test, an examination aimed at assessing non-native speakers' competence in Korean, was instituted in 1997; 17,000 people applied for the 2005 sitting of the examination. The TOPIK was first administered in 1997 and was taken by 2,274 people. Since then the total number of people who have taken the TOPIK has surpassed 1 million, with more than 150,000 candidates taking the test in 2012. TOPIK is administered in 45 regions within South Korea and 72 nations outside of South Korea, with a significant portion being administered in Japan and North America, which would suggest the targeted audience for TOPIK is still primarily foreigners of Korean heritage. This is also evident in TOPIK's website, where the examination is introduced as intended for Korean heritage students.


See also

* Outline of Korean language * Korean count word * Korean Cultural Center (KCC) *
Korean dialects A number of Korean dialects are spoken on the Korea, Korean Peninsula. The peninsula is extremely mountainous and each dialect's "territory" corresponds closely to the natural boundaries between different geographical regions of Korea. Most of th ...
* Korean language and computers * Korean mixed script * Korean particles * Korean proverbs * Korean Sign Language, Korean sign language * Korean romanization ** McCune–Reischauer ** Revised romanization of Korean ** SKATS ** Yale romanization of Korean * List of English words of Korean origin * List of Korea-related topics * Vowel harmony * History of Korean *Korean films **Cinema of South Korea **Cinema of North Korea


Notes


References


Further reading

* Alexander Argüelles, Argüelles, Alexander, and Jong-Rok Kim (2000). ''A Historical, Literary and Cultural Approach to the Korean Language''. Seoul: Hollym. * Alexander Argüelles, Argüelles, Alexander, and Jongrok Kim (2004). ''A Handbook of Korean Verbal Conjugation''. Hyattsville, Maryland: Dunwoody Press. * Alexander Argüelles, Arguelles, Alexander (2007). ''Korean Newspaper Reader''. Hyattsville, Maryland: Dunwoody Press. * Alexander Argüelles, Arguelles, Alexander (2010). ''North Korean Reader''. Hyattsville, Maryland: Dunwoody Press * (Volume 4 of the ''London Oriental and African Language Library''). * Hulbert, Homer B. (1905). ''A Comparative Grammar of the Korean Language and the Dravidian Dialects in India''. Seoul. * * Martin, Samuel E. (1966). Lexical Evidence Relating Japanese to Korean. ''Language 42/2'': 185–251. * Martin, Samuel E. (1990). Morphological clues to the relationship of Japanese and Korean. In: Philip Baldi (ed.): ''Linguistic Change and Reconstruction Methodology''. Trends in Linguistics: Studies and Monographs 45: 483–509. * * Miller, Roy Andrew (1971). ''Japanese and the Other Altaic Languages''. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. . * Miller, Roy Andrew (1996). ''Languages and History: Japanese, Korean and Altaic''. Oslo: Institute for Comparative Research in Human Culture. . * Ramstedt, G. J. (1928). Remarks on the Korean language. Mémoires de la Société Finno-Oigrienne 58. * Rybatzki, Volker (2003). Middle Mongol. In: Juha Janhunen (ed.) (2003): ''The Mongolic languages''. London: Routledge. , pp. 47–82. * Starostin, Sergei A., Anna V. Dybo, and Oleg A. Mudrak (2003). ''Etymological Dictionary of the Altaic Languages'', 3 volumes. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers. . * Sohn, H.-M. (1999). ''The Korean Language''. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. * * Song, J.-J. (2005). ''The Korean Language: Structure, Use and Context''. London: Routledge. * Trask, R. L. (1996). ''Historical linguistics''. Hodder Arnold. * Vovin, Alexander (2010). ''Koreo-Japonica: A Re-evaluation of a Common Genetic Origin''. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. * Whitman, John B. (1985). ''The Phonological Basis for the Comparison of Japanese and Korean''. Unpublished Harvard University PhD dissertation. * Yeon, Jaehoon, and Lucien Brown (2011). ''Korean: A Comprehensive Grammar''. London: Routledge.


External links


Linguistic and Philosophical Origins of the Korean Alphabet (Hangul)

Sogang University free online Korean language and culture course

Beginner's guide to Korean for English speakers

U.S. Foreign Service Institute Korean basic course



dongsa.net
Korean verb conjugation tool
Hanja Explorer
a tool to visualize and study Korean vocabulary * {{Authority control Korean language, Agglutinative languages Languages attested from the 4th century Languages of Korea Languages of North Korea Languages of South Korea National symbols of Korea Subject–object–verb languages