The Winter Olympics wrap up this weekend. South Korea has been in the spotlight for the past month. With that in mind, we thought it would be fitting to mark the occasion by putting the spotlight on the Korean language. Here are 6 fascinating facts about Korean, its alphabet, and its history.
Korean is the national language in South Korea, North Korea and two jurisdictions in China.
Speaking of South Korea, did you know that the South Korean economy is the 11th largest in the world by GDP? Despite tensions with North Korea, South Korea grew at its fastest rate in seven years in the third quarter of 2017. According to Bloomberg, it’s set expand by about 3% in 2018.
And although Korean isn’t one of the top immigrant languages in the United Kingdom, there are thriving Korean communities in London and New Malden.
Korean is a language isolate . . . almost.
If you thought Korean shared a language family with other Asian languages like Japanese or Mandarin, you would be wrong.
Most linguists classify Korean as a language isolate. In fact, it’s the largest language isolate in the world.
That said, it might have one living relative: the Jeju language, spoken in South Korea’s Jeju province. Jeju is sometimes considered a dialect. However, it is quite distinct and not mutually intelligible with the Korean of the mainland.
The Korean language has approximately 76 million native speakers.
That makes it the 17th most spoken language in the world.
Korean has its own script, called Hangul.
King Sejong the Great invented Hangul in the 15th century. Before then, Koreans wrote with Chinese characters, called Hanja. But these were difficult to learn without spending years in school, and that put literacy out of reach for most commoners. Read more