It was exactly 39 days ago when I left Sweden. I've been busy for many things, such as interviews for software engineer internship of Google Korea1, and also Textcube 2.0 designing and prototyping.
Well, just after I came back to Korea, I found a very good website that provides Korean-learning materials. Here is the link. :P It has several subscription options including both free and paid. I think the free one should be sufficient to learn basic Korean.
Instead of introducing details of Korean language, I'm going to tell about my normal life and Korean culture in many aspects, for example, favorite websites used by Korean people, famous vacation places, and traditional foods.
I'm not sure that I could keep writing bilingual posts here, but I'm planning to add a function which enables multi-lingual posts for Textcube 2.0. Then, I will be able to provide more convenient reading to foreign visitors.
Yes, I just finished the second team interview last Monday. Now I'm waiting for the result. ↩
As I said in the first introduction, the best way to learn exact pronunciation is making a Korean friend, or listen to pronunciations of native speakers. Although, I want to show you as possible.
You may have seen a famous American TV series 'Lost'. There appear a Korean actor and an actress. The actor Daniel Dae Kim is not an actual native speaker though he was born in South Korea because he immigrated to United States at two years old. So that's why his pronunciation looks weird and funny for native speakers. (Some people even say it's addictive.) -_-; But the actress Yunjin Kim's pronunciation is more native.
There are several methods to express Korean pronunciations using Latin characters. The current standardized system is Revised Romanization of Korean, also called 'RR'. Formerly used one is McCune-Reischauer method. But neither two methods are completely reflecting actual Korean. Anyway what I used here to express pronunciations is RR method.
The Korean character system, "Hangul", represents the sounds of Korean. But not to make it confusing, another main principle to write Korean is to keep the original forms of words.
Thus, sometimes spoken Korean differs from written Korean. There are some rules to convert written Korean to spoken Korean as a standard. Here is an article about this topic. (The romanization used in this article is not RR, but IPA.) Though it's explaining in Korean, but I think you may be able to see what kinds of differences exist if you know the components of Hangul.
This article explains how to use Korean dictionaries to find out the meaning of new words you meet.
I think most of you, epsecially Western people, would have difficulties to get a Korean dictionary book with your native languages or English here. So I recommend you to use some free web dictionaries.
Before that, you should be able to input Korean characters on your computer. I found a good guide to do this.
For MacOSX, you can just activate Korean Input Method in the international panel of the system preferences dialog. You can also see character palettes to see which key is mapped which Hangul jamo.
Now you can use Korean-English dictionaries on the web. I recommend you to use Naver English Dictionary. It's all Korean, but you should be able to find the input box in the main screen. You may type both Korean or English words to translate into each other.
You would see something similar to this if you have correctly installed Korean fonts.
You would see something similar to this if you have correctly installed Korean fonts.
For verbs and adjectives, you should use a default(dictionary) form, for example, '-하다'. I will explain the variation of Korean verbs soon.
An example of using it. If that word have multiple meanings or uses, then it shows a list of entries.
You may also try English words like this. For Chinese and Japanese people, Naver also provides Chinese/Japanese dictionary. Though these dictionaries are designed for Korean, but it might be more helpful for you than English ones.
Now, it's time to begin some grammar-related things. I think the most easiest part to learn in languages is nouns, so this post is about Korean nouns.
To make it more interesting, you need to know some basic vocabularies.
|human, people, person||사람, 인간(人間)|
|human race, mankind||인류(人類)|
|earth||땅, 지구(地球)||'땅' is used being compared to the sky, and '지구' means our planet.|
I will show family names in the following lecture.
Because Korean has much more simplified pronunciations than Chinese has, there are many words that have different meanings but same pronunciations. In fact, sometimes there are differences on the length of vowels which are usually ignored by Koreans. Koreans determine the meanings depending on the context.
|말ː||words, speaking, language|
|배(倍)||doubles/multiples of something|
|사과(謝過)||making an apologize|
We approximate2 the pronunciations of words from English, French, and other languages. Sometimes those approximation are different between North Korea and South Korea because dialects of North Korea have stronger consonants and heavily affected by Russia. Here, I will use only South Korean.
Some words are transformed under influence by Japanese, or just "Konglish" (Korean English).
|cell phone||핸드폰 -- came from 'hand phone' which is not standard English; many people insist that we should use a better expression, '휴대전화(携帶電話)'.|
And of course, the names of many countries and regions in the world are in this category.
and many others.
But the names of some countries which were introduced by Japan or in earlier periods are used in Hanja representations.
|Republic of Korea||대한민국(大韓民國) -- The official name of South Korea. Usually an abbreviation '한국(韓國)' is used.|
|United States||미국(美國) -- Japan use 米國.|
|Great Britain (United Kingdoms)||영국(英國) -- 'English' is '영어(英語)'.|
|France||불란서(佛蘭西) -- Obsolete word now, but the character '佛' is still used in newspapers as an abbreviation.|
The name of our country, "Korea", is made from the name a kingdom which existed at the medieval age in the Korean peninsula, "고려(高麗)". This kingdom had very activated trades of many products with other countries including China and Arabs.
Basically, we don't distinguish subjective and objective forms because we have postpositions that indicates the role of the words which it decorates. I will introduce postpositions later.
|I, me||나, 저 -- The later one is an honorific form that lowers the speaker compared to the listener.|
|You||너, 자네, 당신3|
|They||그들 -- same to the plural form of '그'|
To make them adjectives, like 'my', 'your', 'his', and etc, you can just append a postposition '~의'. Exceptionally 'my' and 'your' can be also used as '내/제' and '네' respectively. To represent someone's belongings, just append another word '것' which means (some)thing, like 'mine' = '나의 것/내 것/제 것', 'yours' = '너의 것/네 것', and 'his' = '그의', '그의 것'.
To make nouns plural, you may just append a suffix '들' like '-s' or '-es' in English. There is no variation of original nouns. But Korean language does not strictly distinguish single and plural nouns, so this can be omitted in many cases. Usually if a noun is decorated by adjectives or used as a subject, then the plural form is more frequently used.
Korean does not have articles such as 'a', 'an', and 'the' in English. You can just put nouns in proper positions without any articles and any pluralization. If you want to emphasize that a noun is single, you may use '한'(the attributive form of ordinal number/native cardinal one) in front of it, but this is not necessary and actually unnatural in many contexts.
There is no strict separation between uncountable and countable nouns. They are countable or uncountable only conceptually, with no grammatical differences due to absence of articles. Of course, we don't pluralize uncountable nouns such as '사랑' which means 'love'.
In fact, putting proper articles for various abstract nouns is the most difficult part for Koreans when they learn English. (Maybe this post has also many mistakes about this.)
Basically Korean uses the same system of Western society (Gregorian calendar) to represent dates and times. The standard time zone of South Korea is GMT+09:00 without the summer time period. It's same to Tokyo, Japan.
For traditional holidays, we count them on a lunar calendar which is based on Chinese calendar. We don't have any traditional holidays based on weekdays like United States (eg. Thanksgiving day is the fourth Thursday of November in U.S.) because we didn't have the weekday concept before Western culture was introduced.
We had a very different calendar system at the past, which divided a year into 24 periods and count the year based on the starting years of kings' ruling period1 or 60 years of "Kanji" cycles. Before using the concept of weeks, China and Korea usually divided a month into 5 or 10 days. I will introduce this traditional calendar system on another post later.
|Monday||월요일||月曜日||月 = moon, month|
|Tuesday||화요일||火曜日||火 = fire|
|Wednesday||수요일||水曜日||水 = water|
|Thursday||목요일||木曜日||木 = tree, wood|
|Friday||금요일||金曜日||金 = metal|
|Saturday||토요일||土曜日||土 = soil|
|Sunday||일요일||日曜日||日 = sun, day|
You may notice the name of monday and sunday have the same meaning to English ones. Also other names have some relations to English names.3 For example, saturday is come from 'Saturn' which also means the sixth planet of our solar system and we say that planet as '토성(土星)'. These weekdays names are influenced by Japan that uses same names.4
5-days work on a week is now widely accepted in South Korea, so the friday is beginning of weekends like most Western countries, but without shortened work time at that day. (In Sweden, the work time on fridays is often shorter than other weekdays, but in Korea, there is almost no exceptions.)
We write dates in 'Year Month Day' order while Americans use 'Month Day Year' and Sweden uses 'Day Month Year'. Almost everybody knows English month names though they are not used frequently in Korea, and there are no month names in (modern) Korean.5
So we just say January as '1월', February as '2월', ..., December as '12월'. The character '월' is Korean pronunciation of Chinese character '月' which means month or the moon. All numbers in dates are said in the cardinal number form.
Generally, year is '년(年)', month is '월(月)', and day is '일(日)' or '날'6.
Example: April 12, 2008 = 2008년 4월 12일 (이천팔년 사월 십이일)
Usually 3000BC is said '기원전(紀元前) 3000년' and AD2000 (or CE2000) is said '기원후(紀元後) 2000년' in some historical contexts. '기원' means a specific moment of a historic event depending on the context--here, the birth of Jesus Christ.
To say hours in Korean, you should use ordinal numbers, but cardinal numbers for minutes and seconds.
I think it would be faster to look some examples.
|1:00AM||오전 1시 [오전 한시]|
|2:00PM||오후 2시 [오후 두시]|
|5:30||5시 30분 [다섯시 삼십분], 다섯시 반(半)|
|11:50 (ten to twelve)||12시 10분 전(前) [열두시 십분 전]|
We don't have some varied expressions to say times such as 'ten past twelve', 'a quarter past three', etc in English, but just say the exact numbers.
We use '시간(時間)' instead of '시(時)' and other parts are same.7
|10 hours||10시간 [열시간]|
|2 hours 7 minutes 3 seconds||2시간 7분 3초 [두시간 칠분 삼초]|
From now, I will use this expression instead of 'Chinese characters' because 'Hanja' has another meaning that those characters are borrowed and incorporated to Korean language so that there might be some differences to the original Chinese. See this. ↩
During the Japanese occupation period (1910-1945), many words from Western culture were brought by Japan. So many of current Korean nouns are same to Japanese nouns, but often different from Chinese. ↩
In traditional calendar, we also have names for each month, but currently they are almost not used. ↩
'일' is used as a unit of time while '날' as a general conceptual noun. ↩
We do not use plurals here. I didn't introduce plurals in Korean yet, but actually plurals are much less used than English. ↩
Using numbers in Korean is very similar to Japanese and Chinese because those three use same Chinese numbers with different pronunciations. But this fact is applied for only cardinal numbers(one, two, three, ...), not ordinal numbers (eg. first, second, third, ...).
|Arabic||Cardinal||Ordinal prototype1||Chinese cardinal|
Actually, these ordinal numbers are not actually ordinal. They are original-Korean numbers, and used to make real ordinal numbers in some contexts. (So if you use this forms as it is, it's not an ordinal number. To know how to use them, see the end of this post.)
English-like languages have special notations for 11 and 12, but Korean-like languages doesn't have such exceptions.
|11||십일||열하나||十一||첫 becomes 하나 if you use it after 10 or larger.|
|... (You can combine 십/열 and 1-digit numbers.)|
|100||백[baek]||百||There is no more ordinal numbers from 100, so we use same names to cardinal numbers.2|
|0||영[yeong]||零||In middle digits of a number, we don't say anything for 0, just like English.|
English puts a comma between every 3-digits because it uses 'thousands' scaling, but Korean puts it between every 4-digits because it uses 'ten-thousands(만)' scaling. However, 3-digits separation is more frequently used in the real life such as banks.
|1,2345,6789||일억 이천삼백사십오만 육천칠백팔십구||一億 二千三百四十五萬 六千七百八十九|
|You may notice there is one-to-one mapping with Chinese numerals and Korean numerals.|
If you use 1 in places of larger than 10000, we usually add a prefix '일'(1) to the number. So 1000,0001 is 일억일, not 억일, but 1,0000 is 만, not 일만. (You may use '일만', but it's only in some formal notations.)
It's easy to think the last example as 1x108 (일x억) + 2345x104 (이천삼백사십오x만) + 6789x1 (육천칠백팔십구). If you want test yourself, there is a perl script that converts arabic numbers to Korean pronunciations. (Note that the script uses CP949 or EUC-KR encoding, not UTF-8. But I think if you copy & paste its source code in UTF-8 encoding, then it will run well in UTF-8 encoding.)
To speak floating numbers, you can say '.' as 점, and the following digits in 1-digit numbers, such as:
10.13579 = 십점일삼오칠구
365.2422 = 삼백육십오점이사이이
For more mathematical notations such as equations, fractions and squares, I will introduce them (maybe far-_-) later.
If you use ordinal numbers as the attributive forms, the last sounds in 2, 3, 4 and 20 are dropped. The affix '-째' is something similar to '-th' in English.
|first||첫째, 첫번째||'첫' is another expression of '하나' only used in ordinal numbers.|
|second||둘째, 두번째||you may notice that the form is varied.|
and so on.
You can read an article about Korean numerals on Wikipedia instead of this.
It has been a quite long time ago the last lecture. I've heard that some people tried reading this blog and Korean lectures, but they could not see Korean characters because their computers didn't have Korean fonts. For those, I suggest to use 'Naver Dictionary'(Windows Setup file, Linux tarball file) font.
A help page of Wikipedia will also help you.
I will continue next lectures soon. :)