The Korean language is a language whose origins are very heavily debated. It is potentially considered to be an Altaic language, or Proto-Altaic language, because of certain grammatical similarities, for example, fusional morphology and relative pronouns. It is alternatively argued that Korean might be a Japonic language, on account of the similarities in vocabulary, but many modern linguists argue that the language has no clear root, but many influences from many sources.
Essentially, linguists have not yet been able to track the origins of the Korean language. However, with the split between North Korea and South Korea in the forties, there are clear differences in these dialects. There are notable differences in vocabulary, pronunciation and verb inflection, in particular.
The Korean language has around 80 million speakers worldwide. The majority of speakers reside within either South Korea or North Korea, although there are also many speakers of the Korean language living in China or the U.S. It is an official language in both Koreas, as well as being one of two official languages of the Yanbian Province in Northeastern China.
The language of Korean is written in the Hangul language. IN South Korea, the word for Korean is Hangungmal, which literally means “national language”, whereas in North Korea the word for Korean is Chosonmal. There are many dialects of the Korean language, not only because of the split between North and South Korea, but because of the various levels of development in the cities.
Korean-American people who live in America have a very strong sense of national pride in the Korean language. This group of people makes up around 80% of students in higher education who are studying the Korean language.
Most of the Korean language dialects are very similar to each other, and if you learn the regional accent for one dialect, then you will be quite able to understand nearly all of the others. This is true of all the dialects except for the Jeji Island dialect, which is often classed as a separate language, though again there is much contention around this issue.
In the Korean language, the standard form for sentences is Subject Object Verb. However, this is relatively fluid, and only the verb is an immovable element of the sentence. Korean verbs come in two forms, which are action verbs or descriptive verbs. The former are verbs that describe doing words, while the latter are similar to adjectives, and are often described as such by English linguists.
As with Asian languages, Korean places a high priority on politeness in conversation. The relationship between the speaker and the writer must be established before the conversation begins, otherwise there is a strong risk of offending the recipient. It is always best to err on the side of caution, and assume that anyone older than you, or an employer/teacher, is superior in status.
This does not mean that you have to treat yourself as inferior, but only that it is a mark of politeness that is expected in both North and South Korea. Many young Korean people now, do not keep use these honorifics, but if you are visiting either of the Koreas, then it is best to try and be as polite as possible yourself.
Why Learn The Korean Language?
Korea, despite having an unfortunate military past, is a bright and vibrant country with a variety of festivals and special celebratory occasions. Learning the Korean language will also enable the learner to delve into the diverse world of Korean literature. There are many epic poems and traditional stories in the language of Korean, with writers putting pen to paper as early as 200BC. If you are a sporting person, or someone who has a penchant for martial arts, then learning the Korean language could help understand Taekwondo better, which is the national sport of Korea.