To learn Korean or not to learn Korean?

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phaed
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To learn Korean or not to learn Korean?

Postby phaed » 2009-05-25, 14:22

Hello everyone,
After I finish learning French and Spanish, I am moving onto learning German. I need to find, however, a language that I can learn alongside German. Korean is pretty high up on the list because I have many Korean friends and am already quite interested in the sound and writing system of the language.

I am therefore leaning towards Korean, but I am wondering, how does it compare to my other top candidates listed below?
  • Japanese
  • Mandarin (still scared of Mandarin, so probably not this one)
  • Turkish
Thanks!
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Karavinka
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Re: To learn Korean or not to learn Korean?

Postby Karavinka » 2009-05-25, 22:34

hansengel wrote:Hello everyone,
After I finish learning French and Spanish, I am moving onto learning German. I need to find, however, a language that I can learn alongside German. Korean is pretty high up on the list because I have many Korean friends and am already quite interested in the sound and writing system of the language.

I am therefore leaning towards Korean, but I am wondering, how does it compare to my other top candidates listed below?
  • Japanese
  • Mandarin (still scared of Mandarin, so probably not this one)
  • Turkish
Thanks!


Mandarin is definately the odd one out in terms of sound and grammar. Since you are already scared of it, I'll assume it out of consideration.

Since you don't know any Sinitic or Turkic language already, the process of vocabulary acquisition would be equally hard for all three languages. Grammar is fairly "different" for all three languages, although you can learn the other two with much better ease once you learned one. I do not know any Turkish myself, so I cannot be entirely sure about it; but I have heard from other Korean language enthusiasts that Turkish is one of the easiest language for the Korean speakers. So, I'm assuming that all three have the same "kind" of grammar - agglutination - and I do not really think one has any advantage over the others in terms of difficulty for a Westerner.

In terms of practicality of acquiring the materials, Japanese is definately the choice, although there are substantial amount of materials available for Korean and Turkish on the market as well.

On the other hand, finding Korean speakers in Arizona would be far easier than Japanese or Turkish speakers. Koreans, Turks and Japanese are generally appreciative of foreigners who learn their languages, but you should expect that they may not be able to answer your questions - although they can tell you which form is right and which is not, they may not be able to answer why. (Same goes for most English speakers as well, in fact.)

Finding popular culture / audio / video materials would be easier with either Korean or Japanese than Turkish, although some people may disagree. But I think it would be safe to assume so, especially given your location of Southwestern US. But this ultimately depends on your taste, so if there's anything that particularly attracts you, then it should be the choice.

Japanese writing system would prove a considerable challenge, while it is much less so with Korean and Turkish. Be prepared to bang your head on the wall late in the night out of frustration. (Personal experience 8) ) Learning Hanja for Korean is, I must say, largely optional unless you can take advantage of a previously learned language - otherwise, learning the roots and the compounds would not be terribly more (or less) difficult than that of Turkish.

I don't know any Turkish grammar so I won't be able to comment on this area, but I have heard that Japanese grammar is more "streamlined" than Korean, and I share this opinion as well. But this is partially due to the fact that Japanese pedagogy has been studied for more time than that of Korean; there are a recent boom of materials for teaching materials of Korean as a foreign language, particularly from South Korea itself. However, some of them do not make to Amazon so you'd have to find other venues, such as aladdinus.com. A lot of Japanese materials can be obtained from Kinokuniya USA as well.

In terms of the economic usefulness, Turkish would fall behind in the Southwestern US compared to the other two. Japan is a major economic powerhouse that is largely withstanding even the recent economic crisis; while South Korea is not an insignificant, it is not a terribly important player either. But the Korean population in the Southwest - especially California - can prove it useful at times.

I think it's ridiculous for the people to "decide" for the others when they're only asking for some advices and ideas, so I'll let it end here.
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kalemiye
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Re: To learn Korean or not to learn Korean?

Postby kalemiye » 2009-06-05, 19:46

Turkish is a nice language to learn, and the fact that a big part of its vocabulary comes from French helps much when it comes to adquire vocabulary; also, since it is written in Latin script, that makes things a lot easier, and it's grammar is totally regular, therefore there is no need to worry about irregular verbs, etc., and the rules are pretty easy to memorize.

On the other hand, grammar is totally different from anything you know, and it can be very frustrating at times.

I don't know how useful can Turkish be in your area or for your studies, but if you want to learn it only for fun, then it is a good option and there are plenty of materials to learn it for free online for all levels.

I can't compare it to any of the other languages you are also interested in since I do not know any Korean, Chinse or Japanese; but it is true that for Korean and Japanese speakers Turkish seems to be a walk in the part.
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Re: To learn Korean or not to learn Korean?

Postby hashi » 2009-06-09, 22:43

renata wrote:I can't compare it to any of the other languages you are also interested in since I do not know any Korean, Chinse or Japanese; but it is true that for Korean and Japanese speakers Turkish seems to be a walk in the part.


Maybe I should learn Turkish then :P

@Hans, I can't say I know much about Turkish at all, and all I know about korean is their honourifics system is _apparently_ more complicated than Japanese, but I can't vouch for the validity of that. Japanese, would definitely be a challenge, but has alot of benefit. And chinese... hmmm :whistle:

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Rounin
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Re: To learn Korean or not to learn Korean?

Postby Rounin » 2009-06-10, 11:09

We discussed this on IRC already, and as I mentioned I think noir already brought up many excellent points, so I'm just going to recap what I said here, for the record.

Compared to Japanese, Korean has a major advantage, namely the vastly simplified writing system. Whereas Japanese makes it obligatory to use Chinese characters, and even combines its own (illogical) way of using them with the original system derived from Chinese, in Korean Chinese characters are entirely optional, and instead one relies on its highly logical and intuitive alphabet, Hang(e)ul, which can, with some knowledge of phonetics, literally be learned in the course of a couple of hours. Otherwise Korean and Japanese are more or less equally complex – Although they apparently don't have any common origin, they employ the same type of grammatical patterns, and a vast number of the same loan words.

Comparing Korean to Mandarin is slightly like comparing apples and oranges. The grammar of Mandarin is vastly different from both Korean and Japanese, because whereas Korean and Japanese are highly synthetic languages, where many morphemes can be combined to form one word (kaka-sare-taku-naku-natte-kita), Mandarin is a highly isolating language, where one or two morphemes constitute a word by themselves, and words are generally not inflected, but instead placed alongside one another like building blocks, their position within a sentence determining their function. I think this quality makes the language simpler to use for learners, because a lot of grammatical constructions can be grasped intuitively very quickly.

The major difficulty with Mandarin is probably that it uses Chinese characters. This difficulty is smaller with Mandarin than with Japanese, however, because in Mandarin, the characters are more directly tied to the spoken language than in Japanese, with most characters representing one or a few specific morphemes from the spoken language, with a corresponding number of specific pronunciations. The characters are also mostly phonetic derivations of already existing characters, something which can also be seen in the on-yomi pronunciations in Japanese, but not in the kun-yomi – For instance, the character , which is pronounced in Mandarin, boku or moku in the Japanese on-yomi and mok in Korean, lends its pronunciation to the character , which uses as a pronunciation hint, and relies on the water radical to give a hint as to its meaning.

In short, the logic behind Chinese characters becomes more readily apparent when learning Chinese, and for that reason, I believe Chinese deserves a better reputation with learners than it has. As an added bonus, getting the Chinese perspective on Chinese characters will also strengthen your understanding of Japanese and Korean, since the vocabularies of these languages are to such a large extent based on Chinese.

Turkish – I don't know, but I like the I without a dot. It's pretty cool.

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Myeong
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Re: To learn Korean or not to learn Korean?

Postby Myeong » 2009-08-03, 23:15

So, Hansengel, more than two months after your first message, which one have you chosen? :D


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