Updated: Jan 22
I’m so excited about this one, I’ve kind of been obsessing over it, because I’ve been trying to study this language for the last year, and I am finally able to show off what I know! Ok, so, here it goes…Today we’re learning Korean! Yes baby! So, for those of you who know me, I’m a K-pop fan! I don’t mean Gen Z K-pop, I mean original millennial K-pop. I’m talking about BigBang, Girls Generation (SNSD), 2NE1 (RIP my queens!) and Wonder Girls! That’s right. I was there when Nobody But Youwas the major hit! I was there when there when 2NE1 tried to break into America! I was there when BigBang came out with Fantastic Baby!
Ok, so I wasn’t literally there, but I was aware, and I was obsessing over their songs, because I couldn’t go watch them live, I had to watch their performances on YouTube, and thank goodness for it, because I prefer sitting in the comfort of my home, than be squished alongside strangers I don’t know.
Anyway, I’m moving off topic, so here we go! Let’s get to the language learning and then we can fangirl!
KOREAN IS A BABY LANGUAGE!
I never really knew this until recently, but Korean is literally only 537 years old! Well, maybe not spoken Korean, but the writing system, Hangul (한굴). You see, before Hangul, there really wasn’t any form of writing, so the common people were illiterate. The wealthy were the ones who got to do any reading or writing, since they studied Chinese. It was in 1446, when King Sejong (or 세종대왛– Sejong Dewang) decided to create a writing system for the common people, so they too could learn to read and write. That’s when Hangul was born.
Now, Hangul is a phonetic alphabet, it’s made of consonants and vowels, just like in English, but instead of 26 letters, it’s made of 24, that means 10 vowels and 14 consonants; and just like English, at least one vowel and one consonant make up a syllable. It’s also read left to right, so you don’t have to worry about whether or not you’re reading the words the right way!
Here’s where it becomes a little different. Instead of using Romanised letters, they use symbols, and block those symbols together to form words (just like you see with the examples I used in the paragraph above). We’ll get to blocking these syllables later, for now, let’s just get the hang of understanding what Hangul is.
HANGUL – THE BEST WAY TO LEARN
Ok, so we know that Hangul literally a baby language, but how are their words and letters pronounced. That’s a tricky one. You see, unlike in English or even Spanish, where you have set sounds, the sound that comes with each letter or syllable is very different.
So, think about it this way, while English and Spanish might have, say for example, an “m” and a “b” sound Korean slurs those together, and it sounds like something in between. My best explanation is that it should sound like a blocked-nosed “m”. So, it has that short “m” sound at the front, but you get the hard “b” at the end.
This is what you’re gonna get throughout the Hangul system, so even if I write down what the word sounds like in English, it might not be an accurate representation. The best way to understand how each letter is pronounced is by hearing it, listen to native speakers, because they are literally the primary source for the language.
GET TO THE GOOD STUFF ALREADY!
Actually, I won’t, because if I dive in already, you’re just going to get confused, and I’m going to be explaining myself in circles. So, instead, I’m going to ask you guys to do something for me.
Find a Korean song, any Korean song, it doesn’t have to be K-pop (hell, you could even use a kid’s song for all I care), don’t listen to it, read it, don’t worry if you don’t understand the Hangul symbols, there are Romanised versions floating around there somewhere, as well as the translations of the songs, but I want you to take a look at the Romanised version and see if you can memorise it. Chances are, those versions are wrong, and I’ll use some examples the next time I write a post about Korean.
Well, that’s it for now. I’m off to study more Korean, so 고맙습니다 and I’ll see you guys soon! Don’t forget, I’ll know if you have a song ready or not for me the next time, we study Korean!