Understanding Korea materials - Hangeul: 1. Korean Language and Hangeul in East Asia

Cefia (토론 | 기여) 사용자의 2016년 12월 13일 (화) 18:29 판

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 Hangeul: 1. Korean Language and Hangeul in East Asia

1. Korean Language and Hangeul in East Asia

<Figure 1> Korea, China, and Japan (by Google Map)

There are three countries in East Asia: Korea (South Korea and North Korea), China and Japan. Historically, these three neighboring countries have maintained an extremely close relationship, and that intimacy extends to the present, encompassing politics, economics and culture.

However, each one of these three countries possesses distinctive, native language and writing systems. The official spoken languages for Korea, China and Japan are Korean, Mandarin and Japanese, respectively.[1] As described in , these three languages belong to different linguistic families and genuses and use different alphabets.[2] <Figure 2>, <Figure 3-1>, <Figure 3-2>, and <Figure 4> attest to this fact.
[Table 1] Languages and Writing Systems of Korea, China and Japan
Country Language Family/Genus Writing System
Korea Korean language Korean/Korean Hangeul
China Mandarin Sino-Tibetan/Chinese Hanzi
Japan Japanese language Japanese/Japanese Hiragana, Katakana

<Figure 2> Korean Family (by WALS online)
<Figure 3-1> Sino-Tibetan Family (by WALS online)
<Figure 3-2> Mandarin Family (by WALS online)
<Figure 4> Japanese Family (by WALS online)

Comparing language characteristics,[3] Korean is similar to Japanese but considerably different from Chinese. From a morphological point of view, these languages are categorized as follows: Korean and Japanese are agglutinative languages, since most of the words are created by combining morphemes, whereas Chinese is an isolating language, in which each word is composed of a single morpheme.

  1. [Table 1] has been arranged mainly based on the official or standard languages that are used in Korea, China and Japan. It is well known that there are minority languages spoken in China and Japan, unlike in Korea. Korea refers to both South and North Korea in [Table 1]. South Korea and North Korea are two different countries politically, yet they use identical language and writing systems, Korean and Hangeul.
  2. More detailed information regarding these languages is available at the website of the World Atlas of Language Structures (WALS), http://wals.info/ and Ethnologue: Languages of the World’s website, http://www.ethnologue.com/web.asp.
  3. More detailed linguistic features of Korean, Mandarin and Japanese can be found in WALS, which explains the main characteristics of world languages. WALS introduces 149 features in 10 areas for Korean, 153 features in nine areas for Chinese, and 151 features in 10 areas for Japanese.