Aspects of the Korean Language (Exam 1)

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The 5 Systems of Korean Romanization
2. National System of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
3. National System of the Republic of Korea
4. McCune-Reischauer System
5. Yale System of Romanization
McCune-Reischauer System
Apostrophes for breaths
Markings for short vowels
/r/ in place of /l/
Yale System of Romanization
/l/ in place of /r/
“u” in place of “eu”
English Korean Ministry of Tourism
Most recent/contemporary
/r/ in place of /l/
“eu” in place of “u”
Korean Alphabet (S. Korean)
Korean Alphabet (N. Korean)
Inventor of the Korean Alphabet
King Sejong the Great (세종대왕)
Controversies of the Korean Language
1. 집현전 scholars invented 한글?
2. Inspired by lattice patterns?
3. Chinese character based?
4. H’Pagspa script based?
Original Name of the Korean Alphabet
훈민정음, “correct sounds for the instruction of the people”
Vulgar Letters
National Letters
Big Letters
Explanations and examples of “훈민정음”
Proclamation Date of Alphabet
1446 (though made in 1443)
Characteristics lost from the Original Alphabet
1. 4 letters
2. Tone (indicated by dots except w/ obstruent ending)
3. Pitch
4. Accent markers
Regarding Shapes in the Alphabet
The letters, consonants in particular, are designed to represent various characteristics of the sound system.

Speech organs (place of articulations): tongue, teeth, mouth

The 5 Categories of Korean Consonants
1. Labial/Bilabial
2. Lingual/Alveolar
3. Dental
4. Molar/Velar
5. Glottal/Laryngeal
(soft palate)
Effect of “Adding Strokes” to Consonants
Aspiration or tension is added to obstruents with the addition of strokes
Consonant NEVER in Syllable-Initial Position
ㅇ /ng/
Original Form of a Short Stroke
A dot
Shape of Dark/Yin Vowels
Has dots below a horizontal line or on the left side of a vertical line.
Shape of Bright/Yang Vowels
Has dots above a horizontal line or on the right side of a vertical line
Two reasons for why the “dot” disappeared
1. Ease of calligraphy by brush
2. Sound of “dot” disappeared
All complex vowels satisfy _____ _______.
Vowel Harmony
The 3 Principles of Writing Syllables
1. consonant + vowel + consonant
2. positions for initial consonant and vowel must be filled
3. top to bottom, left to right
A phonetic form that does not change, stays the same
Example: 값
Changes in writing direction, spacing and punctuation
Sentences were once* written vertically from the top right corner.
Since 독립신문, spaces were adopted.
Since 한글맞춤법통일안, punctuation marks were used.
*Sentences are now written horizontally from left to right.
Paleolithic Period
30,000 BC
Neolithic Period
6000 BC
Bronze Age
1200 BC
고조선 (Ancient Cosen)
2333 BC
37 BC ~ 668 AD
18 BC ~ 660 AD
57 BC ~ 935 AD
918~1392 AD
1392 ~ 1920 AD
Prehistoric Korean: Old Korean
1st BC~9th Century
Prehistoric Korean: Early Middle Korean
10th ~14th Century
Prehistoric Korean: Late Middle Korean
15th ~16th Century
Modern Korean
17th~19th Century
Contemporary Korean
20th Century
Prehistoric Korean
Voiced stop consonants
Loss of word-final vowels
Old Korean: 1st BC ~ 9th C
신라 language
-aspirated sounds
-no tense sounds yet
– syllable-final consonants were released
– two liquids: /r/ and /l/ used to distinguish meanings
– word-final Chinese sounds /t/ changed to /l/
– case markers existed
– relative/modifying clause markers existed
– honorific system existed
– influx of Chinese character, or Sino-, words
Early Middle Korean: 10th ~ 14th C
– appearance of voiced obstruents
– development of tensed consonants
– maintenance of seven vowel system
– not too much difference from Old Korean
Late Middle Korean: 15th ~ 16th C
• three way (lax, aspirated, tensed) obstruent contrast
• three way (bright, dark, neutral) vowel system
• strict vowel harmony
• consonants clusters were pronounced as written
• loss of voiced obstruents
• unrelease of syllable-final consonants
• no palatalization yet
• tones
• appearance of subject marker -가
• more complex grammar
Modern Korean: 17th ~ 19th C
• After the seven year Japanese invasion, or Imjin War
• word-initial consonant clusters changed to tensed consonants
• vowel ‘ • ‘ disappeared
• diphthongs/triphthongs reduced to monophthongs/diphthongs
• vowel harmony started to break down
• umlaut started: non-front vowels became fronted
• palatalization started
• word-initial /n/ was deleted before i/j
• minor changed in syntax/grammar
Contemporary Korean: 20th C
• Japanese occupation
Japan annexed Korea in 1910.
After 1931 Korean language was not allowed in Korea
• foreign, English language, influence
• influence of mass media and mass communication
Reasons for lack of genetic affiliation evidence
1. little authentic documentation
2. irretrievably lost earlier vocab
3. replacement of native words by Chinese loan words
Altaic/Altaic languages
Turkic, Mongolian, Manchu-Tungus
Features shared b/w Korean and Altaic
1. Word Order (SOV)
2. Agglutinative language
3. Vowel harmony
4. Lack of word-initial liquid sounds (no /r/ or /l/)
5. Sound symbolic expressions
Dravidian language
Languages used in India
Features shared b/w Korean and Dravidian
408 putative cognates, 60 phonological correspondence pairs
Agglutinative Language
A language in which words are created by ‘gluing’ to the word stem
Similarities b/w Korean and Japanese
Semantics (meanings)
Contrasts b/w Korean and Japanese
Lack/incompleteness of available evidence
Some comparisons are not systematically correspondent
Not realistic ancient forms of the 2 languages
Based on modern/late premodern forms
Some compared pairs are Chinese borrowings
Smallest abstract sound unit that distinguishes meanings of words (often represented in / /)
Sounds made with complete closure or constriction in the vocal tract
/ㄱ, ㄴ, ㄷ, ㄹ, ㅁ, ㅂ, ㅅ, ㅇ, ㅈ, ㅊ, ㅋ, ㅌ, ㅍ, ㅎ, ㄲ, ㄸ, ㅃ, ㅆ, ㅉ/
Consonant made by obstruction of the airstream, such as fricatives or stops
/ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅂ, ㅅ, ㅈ, ㅊ, ㅋ, ㅌ, ㅍ, ㅎ, ㄲ, ㄸ, ㅃ, ㅆ, ㅉ/
/b, p, d, t, s, v, f, z…../
Obstruent made by complete closure of the vocal tract
/ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅂ, ㅋ, ㅌ, ㅍ, ㄲ, ㄸ, ㅃ, (ㅈ, ㅊ, ㅉ)/
/b, p, d, t, g, k, (ʧ, ʤ)/
Stop + Fricative
/ㅈ, ㅊ, ㅉ/
Obstruent made by narrowing vocal tract
/ㅅ, ㅆ, ㅎ/
/f, v, h, s, z, θ, ð, ʃ, ʒ/
Sound made by no or almost no obstruction through the mouth or nose
/ㄴ, ㄹ, ㅁ, ㅇ/
/n, m, l, ŋ, r, j, w/
Sound made by air flow through the nose
/ㄴ, ㅁ, ㅇ/
/n, m, ŋ/
Sonorants that include laterals /l/ and rhotics /r/
/l, r/
Voice Sound
Sound made by closing of vocal cords, which causes vocal cords’ vibrations
Includes Korean sonorants and vowels and English voiced obstruents, sonorants, and vowels
Voiceless Sound
Sound made by opening the vocal cords, which does not cause vibration of vocal chords
Korean: obstruents
English: voiceless obstruents
Lax (plain) Consonants (obstruents)
Obstruents that are gently articulated (considered voiceless still) with the vocal chords slightly open
/ㅂ, ㄷ, ㄱ, ㅅ, ㅈ, ㅎ/
English n/a
Tense Consonants
Obstruents that are produced by tightly constricting the vocal chords
/ㄲ, ㄸ, ㅃ, ㅆ, ㅉ, /
English n/a
Aspirated Consonant
Obstruents that are produced by widely opening the vocal chords and with a
strong puff of air
/ㅋ, ㅌ, ㅍ, ㅊ /
/p, t, k, f, s, θ, ʃ, ʧ/
Resonant and syllabic sound produced with less obstruction in the vocal tract
/ㅏ, ㅓ, ㅗ, ㅜ, ㅡ, ㅣ…. /
/ a,e,i,o,u…y /
Glide (semi-glide)
Vowel like sound that cannot form a syllable nucleus by itself, usually forms a diphthong with a vowel
ㅑ, ㅕ, ㅛ, ㅠ, ㅘ, ㅝ…
Glide that comes before a vowel
ㅑ, ㅕ, ㅛ, ㅠ, ㅘ, ㅝ
Glide that comes after a vowel
/w, j/
Part of a syllable that precedes the nucleus (vowel), or a consonant that starts a syllable
/ㅂ/ and /ㄹ/ from ‘바락’
/b/ and /r/ from ‘Barack’
Part of a syllable that follows the nucleus (vowel), or a consonant that ends a
/ㄱ/ from ‘바락’
/k/ from ‘Barack’
Phonological phenomenon that a coda of a preceding syllable is pronounced as
an onset of the following syllable
Prosody (supra-segmental feature)
Rhythmic and intonational aspects that determine the meaning of a unit (larger
than a word)
Pitch (tone, accent), loudness, length, pause etc.
Pitch movement within a word (high, low)
Prominence (strong, weak)
Intonation: sentence level
Standard Korean
Contemporary Seoul dialects that are used by educated people
표준말, 표준어
North Korea Culture Language
Sound Symbolism
beyond sound-imitation
smell, taste, color, size, mood, movement, shape,
vividness, expressiveness, vitality
Sonority scale/hierarchy
Least sonorant/
Most sonorant/
Voiceless stops
Voiced stops
Voiceless fricatives
Voiced fricatives
High vowels
Low vowels
Categories: Korean