Korean language

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The Korean language (in Korean) is called "Han-guk-au" or "Han-guk-mal".

Classification

Korean, as such, is often classified as being a seperate language in a family of its own. Its links, like those of Japanese, to Altaic and proto-Altaic also have been much argued of late. It does have some semblances considering the morphology to some languages of the Eastern Turkic group, namely, Yakutsk and some of its variants.


Alphabet

The Korean alphabet is called "Han-gul".

The Korean alphabet consists of 24 letters -- 14 consonants and 10 vowels that are written in groups of 2 to 5 characters. It is not a pictographic script like Chinese. The shape of the individual Han-gul characters were designed to model the physical morphology of the tongue, palate and teeth.

King Se-Jong of Korea created the Korean script with the help of his advisors. It initially was not well received by the educated populace, who already used chinese characters to write Korean. When Japan invaded Korea and banned Korean publications, many Koreans recognized that the Korean script created a stronger cultural language identity and adopted it.


Grammar

Korean grammar is similar to Japanese. The basic form of a Korean sentence is Subject-Object-Verb (SOV). So whereas in English we would say, "I'm going to the store to buy some food", in Korean it would be something like: I food in-order-to-buy to-store am-going.

In Korean, "unnecessary" words can be left out of a sentence as long as the meaning is clear from the context. So a typical exchange might be:

1: store are-going?
2: yes.

which in English would translate to:

1: are you going to the store?
2: yes.

Korean does not conjugate verbs using agreement with the subject as is typical for european languages. Instead, verb conjugations depend upon the verb tense and on the relation between the people speaking. When talking to or about friends, you would use one conjugate ending, to your parents, another, and to nobility/honored persons, another.


External links: Hangul syllables (7MByte PDF) and Jamo


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