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Should i learn Korean language ?

Hezam

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HiI've been wondering for few days whether i should or should not learn Korean Language.here is why i want to learn it : 1- Korea has a growing economy and a promising future. 2- Korean Language is easier than Japanese/Chinese. 3- Korean Speakers in Arab world are very rare.here is why i'm hesitating: Korea future is under risk because a Nuclear war may happen in anytime.i really want to learn the language for business purpose, But when i think about Korea future the nuclear war freaks me out.So i would really like to hear your openions on this case.Thanks
 

thomas

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We've now been travelling for a few days, so I might have missed the news: is there any imminent danger of a nuclear confrontation?

Other than that, why not? How long have you been studying Japanese, Hezam?
 

Hezam

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Well, The North Korean crazy dictator never stopped waving the Nuclear card, Last time was few days ago after he fed his uncle naked to hungry dogs.
I'm afraid if i complete studying Korean language a "Boooom" happens and everything i studied become useless.

For the Japanese language, i stopped after i found out how difficult it is with the Kanji, Seriously Kanji is the biggest problem to Japanese language learners.
 

thomas

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I'm of course no expert on Korea, but I believe that a reunification is more likely than a nuclear war. In 1989, no one would have even remotely expected a reunification of both German states just a year later.

If that's the case, your Korean studies might pay off. :)
 

nahadef

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Grammatically, Korean is said to be a little harder than Japanese (more layers of politeness than Japanese). I guess the lack of kanji makes it easier, but it's very difficult for adults to become proficient in a foreign written language.

In terms of the future, South Korea has a strong economy, so there is a reason to study it, but if economics is your target, stick to Chinese. That is only going to become more useful in the future, especially Chinese plus a non-English language, since so many Chinese have solid English fluency.
 

letianchen

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wow korean has more layers of politness? And I thought japanese had alot :(. I wanted to learn it in university, but I have to improve my japanese first :O. Im not exactly sure how useful mandarin would be, since I know about like probably 500 people off the top of my head who are fluent in mandarin and english. On the other hand I think the numbers for japanese and korean are FAR less, so its worthwhile. Moreover, I find the kids who are korean or japanese born here are not even near fluent, they just know conversational and household words, in terms of speaking there proficiency is definitely better, but I think I have a better vocabulary than some Japanese people I know. So I think Korean is probably worth your time, but if you are not around korean people it would be hard to master speaking which is probably the more important part in business, while the writing and reading could just come with solo practice.
 

nahadef

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wI know about like probably 500 people off the top of my head who are fluent in mandarin and english.
While I don't know Hezam's native language, it isn't English. That's why Mandarin might be more of value. English people learning Mandarin are already out of luck. China has already got the market cornered.
 

Hezam

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While I don't know Hezam's native language, it isn't English. That's why Mandarin might be more of value. English people learning Mandarin are already out of luck. China has already got the market cornered.
My native language is Arabic, known as the hardest language to learn.
 

thomas

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Personally, and from a European point of view, I'd say that Chinese and Southeast-Asian languages are the toughest to learn.

The most challenging aspect of Arabic is probably pronunciation. It took me a week to master the Arabic alphabet, while I'm still struggling with certain kana, not to mention kanji.
 

hanamizu

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well, i spent 4 years to study Japanese and it took me 2 years to study Korean to a similar level.
Korean has similar pronunciation, grammar to Japanese. Plus, no Kanji, so no kun-yomi and on-yomi. a character (if you know) has only one way to read.

so, go ahead.
 

FinancialWar

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A united Korea will have a larger GDP than Japan. But obviously we do not know when that will even happen.
 

johnnyG

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Given the three way consonant contrast, I would say Korean pronunciation (if you want to do it properly) is harder than Japanese. If you know one of those two languages and then learn the other, the pro to that will be that both are SOV languages with postpositions, and knowing how that works will speed your learning.

But there will also be "linguistic interference"--if you know Japanese (or Korean) and try to speak Korean (or Japanese), you will have to get used to vocab from the other language popping into your mind when you don't want it there.

Second, pick up most any newspaper in ROK, and you will see as many "han-mun-ja" (kanji) as in Japan. If you think you don't need "han-mun-ja" to read Korean, you haven't gotten very far. (If you want Korean that is free of Chinese characters, please plan on visiting/staying in DPRK.)

Actually, there was some 'language planning' in the south in the 70s. They decided they were going to "keep up with the joneses", and as in DPRK, ROK stopped teaching han-mun-ja (kanji). They quickly discovered their mistake, after they had created almost a generation of kids who couldn't read characters (widespread illiteracy) as most others could. They went back to teaching han-mun-ja and haven't looked back.

To my mind, Chinese and English are two of a pair. Word order, and how you would guess things might be, grammatically, are largely similar. Tones do add some pronunciation challenges, but to compensate, China is a big country with people used to encountering different dialects/pronunciations, and so if you're talkative but nowhere near fluent people take the time and make the effort to understand you, to try to communicate. (At least on long-distance, sometimes multi-day train rides across China.)

In Korea and Japan, OTOH, achieving communication is sometimes less important than talking properly/correctly.

A united Korea will have a larger GDP than Japan. But obviously we do not know when that will even happen.

That's sometimes the reason that the Koreans give for the Japanese wanting to maintain a divided Korea. (Of course there couldn't be any other reasons :rolleyes: , nor could have the US, China, the USSR, etc, also had some nefarious, cunning reasons to keep Korea divided/down!)
 
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Hezam

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And the elephant is larger than the mouse.

Thanks for pointing out the obvious. :rolleyes:
I did not know that Korean pronunciation is harder than Japanese, Thanks to johnnyG for the info, And FW could you please stop posting useless posts ? If you already knew then good for you, others need info no matter how obvious it's to you.
 

FinancialWar

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I did not know that Korean pronunciation is harder than Japanese

Someone that has 2516 posts on a Japanese language forum, and is also considering learning Korean seven months ago. You should at least know which language has a harder pronunciation and writing system.

I mean do you even know how many vowels and consonants there are in Japanese?

Seriously, what are you doing with your time on this forum?
 
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the nuclear war freaks me out

Quite honestly, I grew up firmly believing that nuclear war between the USSR and the USA would happen long before now. Obviously it didn't, and isn't going to happen. Korea is a different case, but aggressive posturing from North Korea has been a staple for decades now, and they have yet to aggressively use a nuclear weapon - nor do they have a sufficiently effective military to take over any nearby nation even if they blew up a capital city - never mind that Russia and China's support would likely vanish and leave them completely exposed to the western powers if they unilaterally took such an action.

Of course, it's -possible- that any given leader of a nuclear state could take some irrational action and somehow not be restrained by those around him. Obama or Putin could destroy civilization as we know it - perhaps nearly or completely eliminating human life - any minute now, and leaders of China, North Korea, Israel, and others could at least eliminate a number of major cities and completely disrupt world stability while killing in an instant as many people as died in both world wars.

However, the chance of these things happening is minute - there's no power to be gained by destroying the world because there's nothing left to have power over! That self-interested observation alone should prevent even the most egotistical leader from 'pushing the button'. While a true madman could come to power, there's no sense in planning your life around that chance. If the world ends tomorrow, then it doesn't really matter what you did (religious afterlife considerations aside). You can only plan for the (fortunately more likely case) that it -doesn't- end tomorrow. In the case of Korea in particular there is some slight extra risk that Korea will be obliterated north and south by nuclear weapons and yet somehow -not- entangle the world in a larger nuclear exchange that effectively destroys civilization, but that that seems even more unlikely than a thorough nuclear exchange that destroys civilization (and perhaps human life) entirely.

The sheer terror of 'what if' when such destructive weapons exist can completely obsess and paralyze you (and certainly did that to any number of people from the 1940's to the collapse of the soviet union), but ultimately it doesn't help you to plan your life around the assumption that an unlikely catastrophe will occur. Surely terrible things -will- occur in the future - but they are almost certainly not going to be the things you would predict. All you can do (unless you're part of a disaster planning agency, I suppose), is to plan your life as though catastrophes are -not- going to happen and try to adjust if they -do- happen in a place and a way that affects you personally.
 
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But there will also be "linguistic interference"--if you know Japanese (or Korean) and try to speak Korean (or Japanese), you will have to get used to vocab from the other language popping into your mind when you don't want it there.

I can attest to this from direct experience. Some of my Japanese vocabulary helped me learn Korean analogues, like denwa vs cheonhwa (telephone), for example. These words never interfered with one-another. Instead, words that didn't sound anything alike but had identical meanings would intrude into the other language. Visiting Japan and speaking Japanese and randomly ending sentences with juseyo instead of kudasai was only the tip of the iceberg. I'd start sentences in Korean and end them in Japanese and vice-versa, much to the confusion of my interlocutors. It wasn't bad but it was a noticeable thing and I kind of had to pay close attention to what I was saying in order to avoid such slip-ups.
 

FinancialWar

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I can attest to this from direct experience. Some of my Japanese vocabulary helped me learn Korean analogues, like denwa vs cheonhwa (telephone), for example. These words never interfered with one-another. Instead, words that didn't sound anything alike but had identical meanings would intrude into the other language. Visiting Japan and speaking Japanese and randomly ending sentences with juseyo instead of kudasai was only the tip of the iceberg. I'd start sentences in Korean and end them in Japanese and vice-versa, much to the confusion of my interlocutors. It wasn't bad but it was a noticeable thing and I kind of had to pay close attention to what I was saying in order to avoid such slip-ups.

That's because these words are the effort of the Han Chinese. Contributing to the linguistic development of what is now known as sinosphere.
 

johnnyG

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That's because these words are the effort of the Han Chinese. Contributing to the linguistic development of what is now known as sinosphere.

Yeah, right...

***

Maybe I could also mention, besides the three-way consonant contrast, the relative complexity of the Korean vowel system. There are different ways to analyze it, and tho it's been a while, I seem to remember the following.

One way to analyze Korean vowels is simply to say that there are a lot of them. (not just a, i, u, e, o, as in Japanese).

An alternative is to see it as a simple system of pure vowels, which can have either a w- or y- onglide. (Tho that does not always equal how the vowel is pronounced.)

I haven't dealt with hangul in an online forum like this, so maybe I'll try to illustrate with romaji.

For the vowel "a", you can have "ka", and also "kya" and also "kwa". Phonologically, you can either count that as three separate vowels, or as one vowel that is being modified (or not) in a couple of ways. Do you want a simple/narrow vowel system, with a complex/pervasive set of onglides, or do you want a system without the onglides, but which results in a huge number of vowels?

Once upon a time, a teacher of mine (in the 70s), Dr. Kim Chin-Wu, wrote a paper in about 1965, in the journal Language, about the vowel system of Korean. I think what he said there is still valid, and this is a brief pointer as to what he said. (And I should add that he got his PhD in linguistics at MIT, and is now prof-emeritus at the University of Illinois C-U)

I have tried to google and dig up a PDF of that article, but have not been able to find it.

Sorry.
 

johnnyG

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Also, the consonant contrast in Korean is rather different. It relies on tense, lax, aspirated. Whereas Japanese is just voiced/unvoiced.

Japanese often voice lax Korean consonants that Koreans don't (I had this problem in Korea, since English also relies on a voiced/unvoiced distinction). Japanese speakers of Korean can often be ID'd on this point--they don't pronounce the lax consonant correctly--e.g., voicing it, sometimes heavily voicing it, when a native speaker of Korea would not.

Alternatively, Koreans have trouble with the voiced/unvoiced consonant distinction in Japanese, since that distinction is not part of the phonology of the Korean language. Generally, they tend to not voice voiced Japanese consonants as a native Japanese speaker would. Which then IDs them as non-native speakers of Japanese (and probable Koreans).
 
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johnnyG makes a couple good points although I'm not quite certain I understand what you mean by this:

Also, the consonant contrast in Korean is rather different. It relies on tense, lax, aspirated. Whereas Japanese is just voiced/unvoiced.

Japanese often voice lax Korean consonants that Koreans don't (I had this problem in Korea, since English also relies on a voiced/unvoiced distinction). Japanese speakers of Korean can often be ID'd on this point--they don't pronounce the lax consonant correctly--e.g., voicing it, sometimes heavily voicing it, when a native speaker of Korea would not.

Alternatively, Koreans have trouble with the voiced/unvoiced consonant distinction in Japanese, since that distinction is not part of the phonology of the Korean language. Generally, they tend to not voice voiced Japanese consonants as a native Japanese speaker would. Which then IDs them as non-native speakers of Japanese (and probable Koreans).

Could you give me a few examples of this because this is something I never noticed. I could tell the Japanese students I knew had accents to their Korean but my skill in either language wasn't enough to really see what you're saying. Maybe this is because I was in Busan and learned how to pronounce Korean in 부산 사투리 and had trouble making myself understood when visiting Seoul. Anyway, if you could elaborate with examples, I'd appreciate it. I find the differences and similarities between both languages to be very interesting. (And don't shy away from using katakana, hiragana, and hangeul in addition to romaji to illustrate your points--I'd find them very helpful).

As for Hezam and anyone else interested, I'd like to suggest this book as a reference guide: Korean Grammar for International Learners. It's useful but not entirely practical for beginners. It isn't written by native English speakers but is a pretty good overall reference book for particular grammatical structures in the Korean language. I've found it to be quite useful from time-to-time during my stay in South Korea.
 
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