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History of Korean Language


The Korean language is considered as one of the world’s most ancient languages, however, its origins are doubtful. More than 80 million people worldwide speak the Korean language. The official and national language of both North Korea and South Korea, more than 80 million people worldwide speak Korean. The development of the Korean language can be divided into 3 periods:

  1. Old Korean: Prior to the 15th century the Old Korean was spoken which comprised of classical Chinese. Chinese words adapted into the Korean Language, both written and spoken with Korean pronunciation are known as Hanja.
  2. Middle Korean: Middle Korean is a mixture of Hanja and HangulThe development from Old Korean to Middle Korean is also heavily debated – but it is widely agreed that Middle Korean was spoken from the 10th to the 16th century. The creation of Hangul happened in the mid-1400s under the supervision of King Sejong.
  3. Modern Korean: Modern Korean was introduced in the 17th century after continuous modifications and calibrations. Korean is different from both Chinese and Japanese languages.  Even though Korean and Japanese have identical grammatical forms, a historical association between both languages has not been ascertained up till now. On the other hand, the Korean and Chinese languages are not connected in terms of grammar, but more than 50% of all Korean vocabulary originated from the Chinese language.

In the start of the 5th century, the Korean language was almost totally written in Hanja. Therefore, only the upper classes in Korean society were literate due to the difficulty associated with learning Classical Chinese.

The modern Korean writing style, hangul, was created in 1443 AD, during the supremacy of King Sejong. In South Korea, the word “Hangukmal”, literally translates to “national language”. On the other hand, in North Korea the word used is “Chosonmal”. King Sejong began espousing the use of Hangul by 1447. Korean speakers can be found throughout the world: in the United States of America, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, etc. Traditional Chinese writing is still used for government documents.

Modern Hangul consists of just 24 characters that can be simply learned in just a few hours and includes 14 consonants and 10 vowels. The form of the individual “Hangul” letters were intended to represent the physical morphology of the tongue, lips and teeth.  While the modern Korean alphabet is, in fact, consist of 40 characters.

Essentially, scholars have not yet found the footprints of the Korean language. However, with the division of North Korea and South Korea in the 1940s, there are notable differences in vocabulary and pronunciation. So, the Korean language has both an enigmatic history and modern system, making it one of the most attractive and stimulating languages in the world today. To learn Korean language, there are many good korean classes in singapore. Sign up today and learn this historically significant and interesting language.

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