(I can't speak Korean very well)
31.08.2006 - 01.09.2007
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Okay - I have been having Korean lessons fortnightly, for about 2 months, so I thought I'd give you a brief guide to the Korean I've learnt so far:
The first thing I had to learn is the Korean alphabet, as the Korean language uses characters rather than romanised letters. My friend Maria, who has lived in Korea, did an admirable job of teaching me most of the alphabet before I left. However, because I didn't keep practicising it or using it, I forgot it again.
Unfortunately I can't show you it here because this blog doesn't support Korean. But its quite different to Chinese and Japanese characters. The unique written form, Hangeul, was created in 1446 by King Sejong the Great. His aim was to create a simple alphabet that could be understood by the masses and apparently he was so successful that Korea has one of the highest literacy rates in the world. Each letter in represents a sound and is put into a block that forms a syllable. The letters are then read in a clockwise direction to form the syllable. The Korean language itself is actually derived from Ural-Altaic languages, which is the same group of languages as Turkish and Mongolian. However, the chinese, japanese and english languages have had some influence on the development of the Korean language too. Most recently, the impact of english on Korean has led to a kind of hybrid language called Konglish, where english words are Koreanised. For example, haendup'on means mobile phone, literally hand phone.
Anyway, most foreign teachers at my school do a language exchange, where they exchange english lessons with a Korean teacher for korean lessons. However, I decided to take lessons with a canadian woman who is fluent in korean, because I wanted someone to be able to explain things, particularly grammar, to me in english.
So far I have been learning basic vocabulary: uija (chair), chaek (book), shiksa (meal). There also two different number systems - the Korean system and the Chinese system:
The Korean system - this is used for objects, ages and hours of the day.
The Chinese system - this is used for money, dates, months and minutes.
I can just about manage 1-10 in both and I know a few others in Chinese because that is the money system, so i know pek (100), chon (1000) and man (10000) too.
I am just starting on basic sentence formation. For example, I can say I am english:
Choneun yongguk saram inmnida
(As for me, english I am)
And my list of useful phrases is growing...
Choayo or Choahhayo
(It's good) (I like it)
(I don't like it!)
(Don't do it!)
The 'yo' ending on all of these is the polite form, but they can be shortened when being used informally. For example, if i wanted to tell the children not to do something, I can just say loudly, 'Hajima!'. But if i were to say that to an adult I didn't know well, it would be considered quite rude.
Its all very complicated!!