Chinese, although it belongs to a completely different language family, influenced Korean greatly. Many believe that the language emerged from a single cultural source. But just as the Korean people of today did not descend from a single homogeneous race, the Korean language of today did not evolve from a single language.
Various groups who populated the Korean peninsula in ancient times merged into a homogeneous people with a single language during the unifications of the sixth to the fourteenth century.
By the fifteenth century, Korean had emerged as the language we now know. The modern Korean writing system, han'gul, was devised in during the reign of King Sejong, perhaps the greatest monarch of the Yi Dynasty Before han'gul, other Korean scripts used a complex system of Chinese characters to represent the sounds of Korean. But because of the differences between Chinese and Korean, Chinese characters could not adequately denote Korean speech.
Further, only the elite could afford the time necessary to study Chinese, so King Sejong commissioned the invention of a phonetic script both more efficient and more accessible to the common people. Described as one of the most scientific alphabets ever devised, han'gul consists of 24 letters: 14 consonants and 10 vowels. Combinations of these letters represent 5 double consonants and 11 dipthongs.
This accretion was generally slow and minor; however, by the 20th century, Classical Chinese was distinctly different from any contemporary dialect, and had to be learned separately. This role may not differ substantially from the role of other linguae francae , such as Latin : For those trained in written Chinese, it serves as a common medium; for those untrained in it, the graphic nature of the characters is in general no aid to common understanding characters such as "one" notwithstanding.
However, the Ministry of Education of the Republic of China is currently releasing a standard character set for Hokkien, which is to be taught in schools and promoted amongst the general population. In modern written Japanese , kanji are used for most nouns, verb stems, and adjective stems, while hiragana are used for grammatical elements and miscellaneous words that have no common kanji rendition; katakana are used for transliteration of loanwords from other languages, the names of plants, animals and certain scientific or technical words, onomatopoeia and emphasis.
At one time, many Chinese characters called hanja were introduced into Korean for their meaning, just as in Japanese. Each square block character contains Hangul symbols, or letters, that together represent a syllable. The largest non-Han group in China, the Zhuang , have for over years used Chinese characters.
Despite both the introduction of an official alphabetic script in and lack of a corresponding official set of Chinese characters, more Zhuang people can read the Zhuang logograms than the alphabetic script. They include: Bamboo and wooden slips , from at least the thirteenth century BC Paper , invented no later than the second century BC Silk , since at least the Han dynasty Stone, metal, wood, bamboo, plastic and ivory on seals.
Since at least the Han dynasty, such media have been used to create hanging scrolls and handscrolls. Literacy[ edit ] Because the majority of modern Chinese words contain more than one character, there are at least two measuring sticks for Chinese literacy: the number of characters known, and the number of words known.
Computer text is usually presented in horizontal format; see Japanese language and computers. Business cards in Japan meishi are often printed vertically in Japanese on one side, and horizontally in English on the other. Postcards and handwritten letters may be arranged horizontally or vertically, but the more formal the letter the more likely it is to be written vertically. Envelope addresses are usually vertical, with the recipient's address on the right and the recipient's name in the exact centre of the envelope.
See also Japanese etiquette. Simplified Chinese[ edit ] The slogans on Tiananmen "Long live the People's Republic of China" and "Long live the unity of the people of the world" are written in Simplified Chinese from left to right. Highway markings are read from bottom to top. In mainland China , where the Simplified Chinese orthographical reform has been adopted, vertical writing is now comparatively rare, more so in print than in writing and signage.
Most publications are now printed in horizontal alignment, like English. Horizontal writing is written left to right in the vast majority of cases, with a few exceptions such as bilingual dictionaries of Chinese and right-to-left scripts like Arabic, in which case Chinese may follow the right-to-left alignment.
Right-to-left writing direction can also often be seen on the right side of tourist buses, as it is customary to have the text run on both sides of the vehicle from the front of the bus to its rear. Vertical alignment is generally used for artistic or aesthetic purposes e. Naturally, vertical text is also used on signs that are longer than they are wide; such signs are the norm at the entrances of schools, government offices and police stations.
Calligraphy — in Simplified or Traditional Chinese — is invariably written vertically. My knowledge of Chinese was of considerable benefit in learning Japanese, as I will explain later. I mostly use LingQ. Until you have learned quite a few Chinese characters, you cannot read anything very interesting or meaningful. While learning Chinese, I made a special effort to learn the most frequent 1, characters. I had paper flashcards for these. My learning strategy was to write these characters out on the squared exercise books that Chinese schoolchildren use.
I developed a primitive spaced repetition system, wherein I would write each new character out seven to 10 times, down the extreme left hand column of my exercise book. Then I would write the meaning or pronunciation three or four columns to the right. I would then pick up another flashcard and do the same, and a third and a fourth and so on.
Soon I would run into the pronunciation, or English meaning, of the first character. I was forced to try to remember it, hopefully before I had completely forgotten it. Whether I remembered the character or had to look it up, I then would write this first character out another five to seven times. Then I placed it a few columns to the right again. At first, I would continue this process for 10 new characters daily. I eventually increased the number of characters I studied daily to I would daily add back in characters previously studied.
However, by doing this every day, the first thousand characters eventually more or less stuck with me. This was a good investment of my time, since I was able to use my knowledge of Chinese characters in my Japanese learning. In some ways, Korean is the easiest of the three Asian languages to read, because the writing system is an alphabet. Korean is written in Hangul, an original and unique Korean phonetic script.
Reading Complex Material I like to read authentic material in a language in order to learn, newspapers, books and the like. To do this requires a fairly rich vocabulary.
For Chinese, I needed between three and four thousand characters.
Let's face it - while such languages can boast centuries of glorious literary history and cultural achievement, the passage of those centuries has taken its toll on the logicality of our written languages. For my practical needs, in daily life or in business, I only needed to be able to read, and speak. Three stages of reading. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Koreans now use only a few respectful styles, a change reflecting growth of the middle class and greater social equality.
Let's face it - while such languages can boast centuries of glorious literary history and cultural achievement, the passage of those centuries has taken its toll on the logicality of our written languages.
Google Scholar Jensen, H. The writing is then read left to right, similar to western writing.
A logography, with a unique symbol for each morpheme, requires more complex and more numerous symbols. No only do the components of the characters repeat, the characters themselves are used in a variety of combinations with each other to express what we consider to be words.
On business cards, the use of Hanja is slowly fading away, with most older people displaying their names in Hanja while most of the younger generation uses Hangul. In South Korea, you can still meet hanja—Chinese characters—every once in a while, but the script is quickly becoming obsolete. Google Scholar Kuo, W. My routine consisted of three hours of one-on-one tutoring with a Chinese teacher, five mornings a week. Personal names[ edit ] Korean personal names are generally based on Hanja, although some exceptions exist.
Right-to-left writing direction can also often be seen on the right side of tourist buses, as it is customary to have the text run on both sides of the vehicle from the front of the bus to its rear. Koreans now use only a few respectful styles, a change reflecting growth of the middle class and greater social equality. For example, on Asian editions of Windows, Asian fonts are also available in a vertical version, with font names prefixed by " ".
I found that I was able to stay with fairly neutral levels of politeness until I developed a natural sense of when I need to be more humble or more familiar in my choice of words. Just think of the kind of logographic system used in China, where each word's meaning is linked to its own character which offers no information on sound structure at all. Little systematic study has been conducted on how simplified Chinese has affected the way Chinese people become literate; the only studies conducted before it was standardized in mainland China seem to have been statistical ones regarding how many strokes were saved on average in samples of running text.
Further, only the elite could afford the time necessary to study Chinese, so King Sejong commissioned the invention of a phonetic script both more efficient and more accessible to the common people. Google Scholar Lee, J. To master the tones, I found that I had to do a lot of listening in order to acquire the intonation and rhythm of the language. If you question a master calligrapher I have pestered many with this question!
Reference notes 1. Nevertheless, on official documents, people's names are still recorded in both Hangul and in Hanja if the name is composed of Hanja.
Trying to think of the tones in each word made me to unsure of myself when I wanted to speak. I enjoy reading meaningful authentic texts. Most of them are for proper names place-names and people's names but some refer to Korean-specific concepts and materials.