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A few facts and figures about the Korean Language

In a few months, South Korea will host the Winter Olympic games. Here at Lingua Translations, we are getting ready for the exciting games! We are going to keep everyone up to date with some interesting facts on the Games themselves, the host country and their language. Our last blog was a ‘briefing’ of who has the Olympic Games this time and a bit of history of the Winter sports. This blog – all about the host country’s language. As we know, the Olympics has always been multilingual, representing as much of the world as possible. So bring on PyeongChang!

Where is Korean spoken?

It is the official language of both Republic of Korea (South Korea) and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). There is around 50 million in South Korea and 23 million in North Korea. There are also large pockets of people in China, Japan and America who are Korean and speak their language daily.


Hangul 한글

This is the script of the Korean Language. The first publication in Hangul was in the 15th Century. Before then  literary works were in classical Chinese. Hangul is written left to right. The name Hangul (Hangeul) comes from, Han (한) meant “great” in archaic Korean, and geul (글) is the native  word for “script.” Taken together, then, the meaning is “Great Script”.

Similarities to other languages?

Linguists believe the Korean language is derived from the Altaic Family. This family includes Turkish, Mongolian and Manchu (Northwest China). However, grammatically speaking, the language has similarities to Japanese. In vocab terms, there are similarities with Chinese (Mandarin). It’s not easy to pinpoint where the links are, but learning Korean could help you to start learning Japanese and Chinese.

How hard is the language to learn?

Korean is considered to be one of the most difficult languages in the world to master- especially if your mother tongue is English. The reason for this is the work order. The verb always comes last in Korean. Also, they use different verb endings and vocabulary depending on your relationship with the person.


Korean does not have any gender, number agreements or articles in their language. Something that could help an English speaker! Unlike the French language. This should make learning the language a little easier for us Brits!

Silver lining- The alphabet is easier than the Japanese or Chinese writing system. Their alphabet can be learnt fairly quickly, you just might not make too much sense though!

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