Introduction to Korean

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The Korean written language is properly called Hangul, although its English spelling is not always identical across sources.

Korean was written with Chinese characters, but this was replaced by the hangul alphabet. Both the old logographic system and the newer phonetic system are in use in Korea today, however hangul is predominant in everyday usage.

One who learns Hangul's phonetic alphabet might sound out printed words without the least understanding of their content. As an amusement, one might write English sentences using Hangul's phonetic alphabet.

Hangul Hangul's
phonetic alphabet
English
안녕하세요 annyeong haseyo hello
감사합니다 kamsahamnida thank you
미안합니다 mianhamnida sorry

There are two counting systems in Hangul, the native counting system and a system borrowed from Chinese. They are used for enumerating different things. For comparison, think of the English cardinals "one, two, three,...", ordinals "first, second, third,..." and prefixes "uni-, bi-, tri-,...".

The native counting system is used for counting among others things, people, furniture, meals and hours.

English Hangul Hangul's
phonetic alphabet
one 하나 hana
two dul
three set
four net
five 다섯 daseot
six 여섯 yeosot
seven 일곱 ilgop
eight 여덟 yeodeol
nine 아홉 ahop
ten yeol

The Sino-Korean system is used commonly for measurements, such as metres, seconds, minutes, money and floors (in a building).

English Hangul Hangul's
phonetic alphabet
one il
two i
three sam
four sa
five o
six yuk
seven chil
eight pal
nine gu
ten ship


Vowels are pronounced roughly as in Spanish, except the combination "eo" is pronounced like "u" in "fun." The "l" at the end of words is non-velarized.

Shawn's Hangul page - describes the phonetic Korean alphabet.

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