Archive for the 'Korea (Language)' Category

Korean Numbers

Friday, June 11th, 2010

So we’ve stuck a toe into the pool that is the Korean language.

We’re at a point where we can make a sentence. Though we have to sorta mumble the last bit as Korean end with all it’s honorifics at the end and . . .well, we’re confused. We don’t actually know how to properly conjugate verbs because the end of the verb is too cluttered up by honorifics. That -i before the honorific we know could be an indicator of past tense, plural form or could be a different honorific. Just because you’ve had one already doesn’t mean we’re done with the honorifics, you silly waegook (foreigner).

So we’ll focus our attention on numbers. I mean, after Japan, how bad can it be.

Let me state first, that when I wrote the post I link to above, I was not as versed in Japanese as I am now so I will elaborate on Japanese counting first.

The Japanese have 2 counting systems. The Japanese, and the Sino-Japanese (which is what I described in that post). Both are relevant to other things. Now, the counters I hinted at in the post above, are quite numerous, and depending on what you are counting you use that suffix together with either the Sino-Japanese counters or the Japanese counters. Ordering futatsupon(Japanese counter – long, this, cylindrical things counter) beer will get you frowned upon and if there’s two of you, you’re futari(Japanese counter – counter for something or other), not niri(Sino-Japanese counter – counter for something or other).

So please, dear Deity, let Korean numbers be easier.

The Koreans have two counting systems. Damn

Number Sino Korean Korean Korean Pronunciation
1 Il Hana
2 I Dul
3 Sam Ses Set
4 Sa Nes Net
5 O Dasos Dasot
6 Yuk Yosos Yosot
7 Chil Ilgop
8 Pal Yodeol
9 Gu Ahop
10 Ship Yeol

The reason for the last column isn’t numerical but due to pronunciation rules in Korean. End a word with s and it’s pronounced t. Which, as you can tell by the Korean number of 4 makes it hard to understand my name.

The Koreans use different counter suffixes for everything. Not looking good.

Now, the Japanese use one of the two to count with one counter. Let’s see how the Koreans do that:
Counter: Day

Number Sino-Korean Based on
1st Cheossse Nothing apparent
2nd Dullsse Korean 2
3rd Sessse Korean 3
4th Nessse Korean 4
5th Daseosse Korean 5
6th Yeoseosse Korean 6
7th Ilgopsse Korean 7
8th Yeodeollsse Korean 8
9th Ahopsse Korean 9
10th Yolsse Korean 10

Counter: None (which is something you can do in Korean, but you just say “The First” in Sino-Korean. Wrong counter :P)

Number Korean Based on
1st Halu Korean 1
2nd Itool Sino-Korean 2
3rd Sahool Sino-Korean 3
4th Nahool Nothing apparent
5th Dasse Korean 5
6th Yeosse Korean 6
7th Ile Korean 7
8th Yeodoole Korean 8 (hihi, Yodel)
9th Ahoole Korean 9
10th Yolhool Korean 10

Now ain’t that just clear as day.

I’ll leave you with this little gem:
The time, here is currently, Yeolhan shi (11 hours) sibil bul (11 minutes)
Tell me if you get that.
Yeol = 10 (Korean)
Han(a) = 1 (Korean)
Sib = 10 (Sino-Korean)
Il = 1 (Sino-Korean)
Shi = hour, Bul = minute

You count hours in Korean, and minutes in Sino-Korean.

Not only are the Koreans as annoying as the Japanese in counting, THEY MAY ACTUALLY BE WORSE.


Quote of the day:

This blog is definitive. Reality is frequently inaccurate

– Wally, blatantly ripping off Douglas Adamn

Korean 101 / 한국어 101

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

But before we get into the nitty gritty of Language studies, this is the building in which I am currently residing.

I won’t show you what the inside currently looks like, as it’s 2 desks (one holding up one end of the other) a couch, a futon and some cut up cardboard boxes to act as curtains.
And a smelly fridge. Cardboard boxes also smell actually, held fish before.

It does now have fully functional internet and stuff though. I’m not sure how Korean internet works, but it’s been done just so that if you take out the standard modem and put in a router you don’t have to configure anything. Decent speeds, but youtube really doesn’t like it here.


Korean Language.

I don’t know dick about it yet, but then: That’s blogging. Not being an expert in something but telling the internet how it is anyway.

Basics first.

The Korean written language originated as being somewhat of a Chinese offshoot. 漢字 and the like. Back in the mists of time an emperor figured out that while 漢字 are pretty and can be used in a language it isn’t the easiest way to have a langauge.
So he redid the system and came up with Hangul (한글). An alphabet much like our own and far easier for peasants to master. Literacy in Korea under this emperor improved quite drastically.

For the uninitiated eye korean will look as weird as Kanji but it is actually nicely structured. Whereas Chinese every pictogram has a meaning, which can be part of a larger group of pictograms in which the meaning adds to the collective of the pictographs (linguistic borg) every “block” in Korean is more of a syllable consisting of 2-4 letters. So while the untrained western eye sees an equally unintelligible jumble  of lines in 안녕하십니까 as well as 漢字で書くことを勉強した one can dissect the blocks in the first into letters:

안 = ㅇ, silent as first letter or ng elsewhere; ㅏ, a ; ㄴ, n (though exceptions apply) =an
녕 = ㄴ, n , yeo (this is weird, I should use phonetic alphabet for you to understand, but I’ll get to that), ㅇ, ng =nyeong
하 = ha
십= sib (but pronounced sim due to something something grammer rule something something)
니까 = nikka
안녕하십니까 = annyeonghasimnikka = How do you do (or literally: Are you at peace. And as much a rhetorical question as our version is)

漢字= Chinese letters
書く = to write
勉強 = to learn
漢字で書くことを勉強した = kanjidekakukotowobenkyoushita
There’s no link between the lines and pronunciation. There’s a link between lines and meaning, and the meaning is linked to pronunciation.
(Some of you may see I’ve cheated, writing Japanese as I know even less about Chinese than Korean except that it’s fun making beginning  foreign students of the language say 4 = 4, 10 = 10, 14 = 14 , 40 = 40. Don’t understand? Find one and ask.)

Now, I’m no linguist and I’m not actually sure where we got this alphabet from, it’s called the latin alphabet so I’m assuming those buggers had something to do with it. But the form of the letters itself evolved from stuff (Hieroglyphs and the like). The form of he Korean letters were chosen. So there’s a lot of logic in the letters.

ㅗ,ㅓ,ㅏ,ㅣ,ㅜ,ㅡ are vowels
ㅛ,ㅕ,ㅑ,ㅠ are the y-vowels
So you get ㅏ is a and ㅑ is ya. ㅜ is u and ㅠ is yu. Logical right?
There’s something similar with the w-vowels, though those are a bit sketchier.

The problem I’m having so far is with some of the letters.
Specifically ㅓ,ㅡ,ㅈ,ㅐ and ㅔ
Why these are problematic we have to delve into phonetic alphabet.
You see this is the description of the vowels as per linguistic guide in the Lonely Planet (Raph does not agree with this one btw)

Hangul Romajinized Phonetic
a a
eo ɔ
o əʊ
ee i
eu ʊ
ea æ
e e

Silly thing is, we have all these sounds in my native tongue, I’ve just . . . never seen them as one letter. So I have problems pronouncing theㅓ,ㅡ,ㅐ and ㅔ. Seriously, the last two are just e to me.

Which leaves ㅈ in my list of letters I don’t quite get.
I explained the logic in the vowels but haven’t touched on the consonants yet. They also come with little rows. Most notable for this example is:
s, ss, j, jj, tch
Similar letters, similar pronunciations. So why do I have a problem with ㅈ. Well, because ㅈ will be anything from ㅅto ㅊ whenever it decides to do so.
제 = mine, pronounced je
저기 = over there, pronounced tchagi
지내다 = to pass the time, pronounced shineda

Now, there’s a whole range of other letters not doing just one thing. ㄱ is k or g depending on its mood and will be a ng if it follows a ㄹ. But that’s something that’s written down somewhere. Something they tell you from the get go.
ㅈ just ignores all the damn rules sounding like whatever it damn well pleases.


(I’ll make a great old man one day, Git offa mah lawn, ya daym kids!)


Quote of the day:

To alcohol! The cause of – and solution to – all of life’s problems!”

– Homer Simpson