Korean Language History

The language with 7 levels of respect (honorifics)

Korean is the official language of North and South Korea and ranks sixteenth in the world’s league table of languages for native speakers. It is also one of the two official languages in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in China. The Korean Diaspora in many countries also speaks the Korean language. This includes citizens of the People’s Republic of China, Japan, and the United States. There are about 78 million Korean speakers worldwide. The Korean language is famous on using polite words among Korean speakers. It is no wonder why many businesses nowadays, need the help of Korean translation agencies.


Korean Dialects

There are six different major Korean dialects. Each of these dialects has significant differences between the alphabet, pronunciation, and spelling. However, the Korean language spoken is mutually intelligible throughout Korea. Most Korean words are understood in both North and South Korea.

The status of the other party influences the politeness used in writing and speech in the Korean language. Special Korean words show respect to certain individuals. These Korean words are usually nouns or verb endings and make the level of respect clear to the audience. Certain individuals worthy of this show of respect are usually older people. These Korean words also apply to those who have social significance, which includes teachers and professors.

Korean culture is growing in popularity around the world. For this reason, there is an increased need for Korean translation services. K-Pop and certain Korean foods are factors that have helped spread the Korean language. Popular Korean television shows have piqued people’s interest in learning new Korean words.

This increase in popularity has led to more people wanting to learn the Korean language. In fact, there are over 160,000 students enrolled in classes to learn Korean. Students learn through King Sejong Institutes, which are in over 75 countries around the world.


Origins & Roots of the Korean Language

Linguists believe that the roots of the Korean language go back to the Altaic family of languages. The Altaic languages have originated from North Asia. Some other languages in this family include Hungarian, Finnish, and Mongol, among others.


Korean and Japanese Language Similarities

There are some extremely significant similarities between Korean and Japanese. One similarity is their grammatical structures and levels of politeness. Despite their similarities, linguists have not been able to establish any historical connection between the two languages.

It is the opposite case when it comes to Chinese. Specifically, there isn’t any connection between the grammatical structures of the Chinese and Korean languages. However, half of all Korean words give credit to the Chinese language. Character compounds from the Chinese language came into the Korean language during the colonial period.

There are also a few English words that have filtered into normal use in the Korean language. We call these “Konglish” words. One example of a Konglish word is “초콜릿,” or “chokollis.” “Chokollis” means chocolate. There are many more examples of Konglish words in the language.

The opposite is true as well: English has a few words that have originated from Korean words. For instance, English speakers use the Korean word “chobo”. It is a Korean word that is used to call someone a novice.

The languages of the Korean peninsula were formerly written using Chinese characters. Today, Korean is mainly written in Hangul, the Korean alphabet promulgated in 1446 by Sejong the Great. Prior to the development of Hangul, Koreans only used Hanja and phonetic systems for over a millennium.

Hanja is a writing system based on Chinese characters. With time, the written version of the Korean language developed and is now written using Hangul instead. Hangul consists of 24 letters. There were several factors to keep in mind for Hangul users. One of these factors was the movement of the tongue and the teeth during the pronunciation of Korean words.


Korean Translation Services

There are many reasons you may need Korean translations for your business. Perhaps you have a video, a website or an app that you would like to share around the world. Perhaps you are only having trouble with a technical document, a brochure or just a translation of one or two Korean words. Whatever the case, we can help you. Just get in touch and one of our friendly project managers will be happy to help.