The very intriguing thing about the Korean wave in the Philippines is the thought that learning the Korean language is not that popular. The rise of the Korean culture in the country is mainly caused by the invasion of Korean food, music (K-Pop), and television drama series.
However, that is not the primary reason why I am writing this blog entry.
Why Did I Study The Korean Language
Learning the Korean language is fun, most especially that there are a lot of Koreans in the Philippines. I was able to meet my friends from Korea in 2011. They went to Cebu City for a 5-day vacation and for a chance to meet in person from constantly communicating with them on Twitter.
I’ve been learning the Korean language since 2007, a year after I arrived here in Cebu to work. It took me days to familiarize and memorize 한글 (Hangeul), the official Korean alphabet. It was invented by King Sejong the Great.
The creation of the Korean alphabet, Hangeul, was inspired by different vocal sounds and formation of the mouth and tongue. As someone who is very unfamiliar with the writing system, that is my push to learn the language. The Korean language is unique and well-crafted.
History of the Korean alphabets
In the 15th century, King Sejong felt that hanja (the system adapted from Chinese characters taught only to privileged elite members and scholars) was not adequate to write and most of the population was illiterate.
The name of the Korean writing and speaking system was derived from the names of Korea. Korea, in Korean, is 한국 (Han-guk). Therefore, the language is called 한국어 (Hanguk-eo, meaning “Korean language”). Another name includes 한국말 (Hanguk-mal, meaning “Korean speech”). The Korean language is also simply called as 국어 (guk-eo, literally means “national language”). This name is based on the Chinese characters “國語”, which means nation + language.
Since I started learning the Korean language, I can easily read signages around Cebu City from Korean mini marts and restaurants. I also bought lecture manuals and dictionaries from bookstore to help me with my self-studies.
For a little fun, here are some Korean words that you can learn:
|Korean word (in Hangeul format)||Romanization||Meaning|
|안녕하세요||An-nyeong-ha-se-yo||Hello (or “Hi”)|
|아버님 / 아버지||A-bo-nim / A-bo-ji||Father (honorific or formal) / Father (casual or informal)|
|어머니 / 엄마||Eo (or O)-mo-ni / Eo (or O)-ma||Mother (honorific or formal) / Mother (casual or informal)|
|형 / 오빠||Hyeong / Op-pa||Older brother (used by younger males) / Older brother (used by younger females)|
|누나 / 언니||Nu-na / Eo (or O)-ni||Older sister (used by younger males) / Older sister (used by younger females)|
Always put to mind that Korean words change depending on the formality (or honorifics), the person who speaks it. Word tags exist in the Korean context to denote tense, number (singular or plural) and part of a sentence (subject or object).
The Korean language uses the structure Subject-Object-Verb, compared to the Subject-Verb-Object structure in the English language.
Challenges and Usage Difficulties
The Korean language is very complex that when a single word pronounced differently may signify a different meaning. A word may also mean two different meanings.
There are double letters in the Korean alphabets: ㄸ (dd), ㅃ (pp), ㄲ (kk), and ㅆ (ss). These require lesser or no air (aspiration) in phonetics. For example, the word 떡볶이 (Tteokbokki, or rice cake) does have two double letters.
Why Did I Learn The Language, Really
With the same reason why I learned the English language or any language (I’ve tried learning Spanish and Japanese before), learning the Korean language is an addition to my skills. I am fascinated by its history and its uniqueness, as well as its art and dynamics of writing.
Learning it can be challenging. However, it goes to learning any other language. It can be fun, and at the same time can be frustrating.
I am still trying my best to learn the language and master it in the future. The only challenge that I have right now is someone to talk to when learning it because, if you go back to the first paragraph of this blog entry, the Korean wave in the Philippines in terms of the language is not that many compared to music, food, and television dramas.
Some people I know tend to only use specific words like the expression “진짜?” (“jinjja?”, meaning “really?” or “for real?”) or the sample words I have given from the table above on this post.
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