The History of the Korean language

The Korean language is believed to be part of the Altaic language family and is spoken by nearly 80 million people around the world. It’s native to North and South Korea, but is also spoken in parts of the People's Republic of China, parts of Japan, and by people in the United States and Russia.

Today, it’s assumed that the Korean language evolved from the dialects of the Buyeo. Out of the language of these tribes, so-called Middle Korean developed over various intermediary steps and is traceable back to a thousand years before Christ.

Middle Korean was strongly marked by the influence of the Manchurians and Chinese. At that time in Korea, writing was done exclusively in Chinese characters. In about the 16th century, Middle Korean formed into today’s spoken version of the language.

Modern Korean

The North Korean dialect is based primarily on that spoken in and around the capital city of Pyongyang. The language of South Korea is significantly influenced by the dialect in the capital of Seoul. The differences in these dialects are minimal, and inhabitants of both North and South can easily communicate with each other.

There is only one variant of Korean that isn’t understandable to North and South Koreans, which is spoken on the volcanic island of Jeju-do – a special province of South Korea.

A Popular but Complex Language

Korean is currently enjoying a large amount of popularity. Today, many people from all around the globe are learning Korean for various reasons.

The polite forms, in particular, are very complex and can be confusing for foreigners. There are numerous titles or descriptions of kinship relation that are used as titles. People studying the language must work hard to use these in the correct situations and context.

When using polite forms, there is also a cultural assessment of your conversation partner. Therefore, the verbs of the Korean language, for example, are often used in a social context.

The vocabulary contains loanwords from Chinese, Japanese, English, and German.

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