Follow us on social media:
@HanmadiKorean on Twitter
email@example.com with any comments, questions, or requests
What do you know about the history of Korean? When did Korean become Korean?
Old Korean: Generally understood to be language of Unified Silla, which was 668-935, though some debate extends it later or suggests it’s earlier (“Old Korean” in Handbook of Korean Linguistics)
Before EMK, spoken use of Sino-Korean was only for places, people, government ranks for the most part. Otherwise mostly written
But from Koryeo dynasty on, Sino-Korean words “pervaded the spoken language”
Late Middle Korean: an “all-out infiltration of Chinese words and characters into every facet of Korean culture and society, chiefly because of the Choson dynasty’s adoption of Confucianism as the state ideology and, [sic] the popular admiration of everything Chinese.”
Also when it became full of Sino-Korean/Native Korean doublets – e.g., the number system
(“Middle Korean and Pre-Modern Korean,” Ho-Min Sohn, The Handbook of Korean Linguistics, edited by Lucien Brown, and Jaehoon Yeon, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2015.)
65/35/5 split among sources
35% of Korean lexicon is native Korean
“Native words express natural objects, basic actions and states, concrete concepts, and grammatical relations (Sohn 2011)”
Numbers, kin, classifiers (see 6.2.3)
Ideophonic (onomatopoeia) sound-symbolic
(An Introduction to Korean Linguistics Eunhee Lee et al.)
Why does Native Korean have fewer words than Sino-Korean?
“Throughout the known history of Korean, Sinitic vocabulary has tended to displace native words” (History of the Korean Language Ki-moon Lee, S. Robert Ramsey)
Prestige and native Korean vs Sino-Korean
“Moreover, whenever Sino-Korean synonyms exist alongside native words, the Sino-Korean words are generally considered more elegant, and therefore sometimes serve as respectful, even honorific terms” esp like medical vocabulary, other professional (History of the Korean Language Ki-moon Lee, S. Robert Ramsey)
Bap vs shiksa: Native Korean vs Sino-Korean words for similar concepts, with differing levels of prestige.
(Sino-Korean words weightier, more formal, fancier – Koh Jongsok p 167 “We’re all greeks” in Infected Korean Language)
Some that were lost?
E.g., native Korean kin terms for many types of kin. Words like the word for mountain.
Tie-ins with linguistic nationalism; moves to increase native Korean – in North Korea, in South Korea
Section on native neologisms – prescriptivist – often not well thought out
Too clumsy to be taken seriously
Often constructed along the lines of SK expressions but it doesn’t sound right in native Korean
But naturally arising ones work well – e.g. Oppa (beg of 20th centurly only used inside Seoul’s walls; now used throughout Korea)
Native words for businesses like coffee shops, restaurants, night clubs; SK for formal businesses
North Korea really tried to purify the language from early on. Needed to replace foreign words with native Korean words.
Banning Hanja, which is how SK words were often written back then – restricted in 1949, banned 3-4 years later – a thing of the elite in the past, and an obstruction to literacy in the present
(but later resurrected it – 1966) – it’s banned from school textbooks and other Korean pubilcatoins, but NK students learn more Chiense characters than SK ones these days, it appears.
According to Choi (2003, 205-206), since 1964 NK has replaced up to 50k SK words and foreign loanwords with native Korean words, though only half still in use
Icecream was replaced with a native Korean created word but reverted to English loanword
(History of the Korean Language; “Language Policies in North and South Korea” by Jae Jung Song, Handbook of Korean Linguistics)
Are we still speaking Native Korean? Can we bring it back? Should we?