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The negative copula expression converts [noun] +i-into [noun]-i/-ga+ani(i)-, as inton-i aniyaIt isnt money andcha-ga aniyaIt isnt tea. In short sentences verbs and adjectives can be negated by preposing the adverban(i), as inan mŏgŏI wont eat it, but a more versatile device permits negation of even long sentences by converting the verb to an inflected form that ends in-jior-chi(pronounced chi), followed by theauxiliaryanh-not do/be, a contraction fromani ha-(the negative adverb + the dummy verbha-do/be):mŏkchi an(h)aI dont eat it,chuji an(h)aI dont give it,chochi an(h)aIts no good. Predicates can be conjoined with endings meaning and (-go/-ko, -ŏ/-asŏ) or but (-na/-ŭna, -ji/-chiman) and subordinated with endings that mean when/if (such as-myŏn/-ŭmyŏn) or even if (-ŏ/ado).

Koreans began putting spaces between words in 1896. As in English, judgment varies on whatconstitutesa word rather than a phrase. Earlier, Koreans wrote syllables as distinct blocks but failed to separate words. That was the Chinese tradition, which is still alive in Japan, where the mixture ofkanji(Chinesecharacters) andkana(syllabic symbols based on kanji) helps the eye detect phrase breaks. The Chinese comma and period (a hollow dot) are commonly used, and modern punctuation marks have been taken from English.

Korea has had its own language for several thousand years, it has had a writing system only since the mid-15th century, when Hangul was invented. As a result, early literary activity was in Chinese characters. Korean scholars were writing poetry in the traditional manner of Classical Chinese at least by

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When a Korean syllable that begins with a vowel is added to a syllable that ends in a consonant, that coda moves over to fill the empty onset slot of the second syllable:chiphouse +-eto is romanizedchib-ebut pronounced /či-be/,paprice/meal +-ŭl(direct object) is spelledpab-ŭlbut said as /pa-bŭl/, andtong-aninterval is heard as /to-ŋan/.

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Whenp, t, k, ch, orsis preceded by a stop, it is automatically pronounced as reinforced (tense), but that sound feature is ignored both in the Hangul spellings and in the transcriptions:ip-tothe mouth too = /iptto/,ot-kwawith the garment = /o(t)kkwa/,kuk-podathan the soup = /kukppoda/,hakchascholar = /haktcha/,iksaljoke = /ikssal/. After the adnominal ending-(ŭ)lthere is reinforcement unless a pause is inserted:pol kotthe place to look sounds just likepol kkotthe flower to look at, but they are spelled and transcribed differently. Other cases of reinforcement are less predictable and are variously treated or neglected in spellings and transcriptions. In some cases the reinforcement goes back to the Middle Korean particlesof.

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English makes a two-way distinction of voiceless and voiced stops (pip, bib; tat, dad; kick, gig). In Korean, voicing is automatic, so that [p] and [b] form a single phoneme and are written with the same Hangul letter. Korean distinguishes two other kinds of obstruents (stops, or fricatives): heavily aspiratedp, t, k, andchand reinforced (tense)pp, tt, kk, andtch. The standard language also has a tense sibilantssin contrast with the lax (and somewhat aspirated)s, but many speakers maintain this distinction only at the beginning of a word or ignore it entirely, despite the spelling. Both kinds ofsare palatalized beforeiory, and the laxssounds like Englishsh, so that the Silla kingdom is sometimes referred to as the Shilla kingdom. (TheYaletranscription for this name, Sinla, shows the Hangul spelling.) The reinforced consonants, now written as geminates (duplicate letters), probably became distinctive through the reduction of clusters, such as Middle Koreanst, pst, andpt, and in many words the heavily aspirated consonants seem to go back to earlier clusters withhork. The clusters, in turn, were reduced from disyllabic strings by syncope (omitting the vowel). The simple aspiratehis often murmured or dropped between voiced sounds:si(h)ŏmtest,annyŏng (h)ase-yoHow are you? That accounts for the [r] in words likesir(h)ŏmexperiment. Beforeithe velar nasal is often reduced to no more than nasality:annyŏng (h)i kase-yoGood-bye to you who are leaving is usually pronounced [annyɔĩgas].

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, which is often classified as one of the Altaic languages, has affinities to Japanese, and contains many Chinese loanwords. The Korean script, known in South Korea as Hangul (Hangŭl) and in North Korea as Chosŏn muntcha, is composed of phonetic symbols for the

The examples given here are all in an informal style, but there are several other styles. The formal style marks a statement with-(sŭ)mnida, a question with-(sŭ)mnikka, a command with-(sŭp)sio, and a suggestion with-(sŭ)psida. The forms in the plain/impersonal style are-da(or processive-(nŭ)nda) for statements,-naor-nior-(nŭ)n-ya/-kafor questions,-(ŭ)raor infinitive +-rafor commands, and-ja/-chafor suggestions. Instead of-ŏ(-yo)Koreans sometimes use-ji(-yo)to assert the speakers involvement.

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Nor is there general agreement on the relationship of Korean to other languages. The most likely relationships proposed are to Japanese and to the languages of theAltaicgroup: Turkic, Mongolian, and especially Tungus (-Manchu-Jurchen).

Aspirated and reinforced consonants

InJapanese language: Hypotheses of genetic affiliation

Korean spelling is complicated. Words are usually written morphophonemically rather than phonemically, so that a given element is seen in a constant form, even though its pronunciation may vary when it is joined with other elements. For example, the word for price is always spelledkapsthough it is pronounced /kap/ in isolation and /kam/ inkaps-manjust the price. From the 15th century on there has been a steady trend toward ignoring predictable alternants.

Korean borrowed many words from Classical Chinese, including most technical terms and about 10 percent of the basic nouns, such assanmountain andkangriver. The borrowed words are sometimes written in Chinese characters, though that practice is increasingly avoided except when the characters are used as aids in explaining technical terms.

Linguistic history and writing systems

Korean literature, the body of works written by Koreans, at first in Classical Chinese, later in various transcription systems using Chinese characters, and finally in Hangul (Korean: hangŭl; Hankul in the Yale romanization), the national alphabet. Although Korea has had its own language for

The earlier language had a distinctive musical accent. In the far south and the northeast, the accent is still maintained as distinctions of pitch, vowel length, or a combination of the two. In the 15th century, low-pitched syllables were left unmarked but a dot was placed to the left of the high-pitched syllables and a double dot (like a colon) was put beside syllables that rose from low to high. The rising accent was maintained as vowel length in central Korea after the other distinctions eroded, but it, too, is vanishing in modern Seoul, even in initial syllables, where it has persisted longest. Like French, Seoul Korean no longer uses accent to distinguish words. The few apparent exceptions are due tointonation:nu-ga wassŏ(spoken with a rising pitch) Did someone come?,nu-ga wassŏ(spoken with a falling pitch) Who came?.

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The hypothesis relating Japanese to Korean remains the strongest, but other hypotheses also have been advanced. Some attempt to relate Japanese to the language groups of South Asia such as the Austronesian, the Austroasiatic, and the Tibeto-Burman family of the Sino-Tibetan languages. Beginning in the second half of the 20th

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The Korean language also has endings that adnominalize a predicate (make it modify a following noun), operating in the same manner as an English relative clause:uri-(h)ante ton-ŭl chun saramthe people who gave us the money,saram-i uri-(h)ante chun tonthe money the people gave us,saram-i ton-ŭl chun uriwe to whom people gave money,saram-i uri-(h)ante ton-ŭl chun chib-i man(h)aThere are many houses where people gave us money. Often the predicate marks the subject as someone special (you or the teacher) by inserting thehonorificmarker-(ŭ)si-, reduced to-(ŭ)sy-before a vowel as inchusyŏ-yo. There are also ways to mark the predicate for tense and aspect.

The spoken syllables are fairly simple in structure. Each ends either in a vowel or in one of the voiced consonants p, t, k, m, n, ng, or l. When two syllables are put together, various changes may take place where they join. When a syllable that ends in a stop is followed by one that begins with a nasal, the stop assimilates: chip house + -man only sounds just like chim burden + -man [čimman], and kung-min can mean either the people of the nation (when the first syllable is kuk- nation) or the poor people (when the first syllable is kung- poor). Hangul spelling distinguishes such pairs by writing the basic forms. Before a velar (k, k, kk), the dental n is usually pronounced like the velar ng so that kango hardship sounds like kanggo stable, but that assimilation is ignored in both the spelling and the transcriptions. Both -n + l- and -l + n- are pronounced like -l + l-, so for the sound [-l:l-] one must know what is in the word to decide which of the three Hangul spellings to use.

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When Korean words are cited in English and other languages they are transcribed in a variety of ways, as can be seen from the spellings seen for a popular Korean surname: I, Yi, Lee, Li, Ree, Ri, Rhee, Rie, Ni, and so on. For English speakers the most popular transcription is that of theMcCune-Reischauer system, which writes words more or less as they sound to the American ear. Despite its clumsiness, McCune-Reischauer is the system used in this description, and following that system the common surname is written Yi; it sounds like the English name of the letter. In citing sentences, many linguists prefer theYale romanization, which more accurately reflects the Korean orthography and avoids the need for diacritics to mark vowel distinctions. For a comparison of the two systems,

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All transcriptions of Korean include digraphs of one kind or another and use separators to distinguish a string of two letters in their separate values from their single value as a digraph. When no other mark (such as a hyphen or space) is in order, the McCune-Reischauer system uses the apostrophe to distinguish such pairs ashangŏ(=hang-ŏ) resistance andhangŏ(=han-gŏ, usually pronounced as ifhang-gŏ) a cloistered life.

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,languagespoken by more than 75 million people, of whom 48 million live inSouth Koreaand 24 million inNorth Korea. There are more than 2 million speakers inChina, approximately 1 million in theUnited States, and about 500,000 inJapan. Korean is the official language of both South Korea (Republic of Korea) and North Korea (Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea). The two Koreas differ in minor matters of spelling, alphabetization, and vocabulary choice (including the names of the letters), but both essentiallyendorsethe unified standards proposed by the Korean Language Society in 1933.

The writing system dates from 1443, and for many years it was known asŎnmunvernacular script, though in South Korea it is now calledHangul(hangŭl; or Hankul in the Yale romanization) and in North Korea Chosŏn kŭl(tcha), Chosŏn mun(tcha), or just Chosŏn mal Korean. Very simple symbols are provided for each of thephonemes. Words can be spelled by putting these symbols one after another, as most writing systems do, but Koreans have preferred to group the symbols into square blocks like Chinese characters. The first element in the block is the initial consonant; if the syllable begins with a vowel, a small circle serves as a zero initial. What follows, either to the left or below (or both) is the vowel nucleus, which may be simple or complex (originally a diphthong or triphthong). An optional final element at the bottom (calledpatchim) writes a final consonant or a cluster of two consonants. The 15th-century script had a few additional consonant letters that became obsolete in the following centuries and an additional vowel distinction that survived in the spellings until 1933; that vowel is usually transcribed asă. OnCheju Island, where the distinction is maintained, thephonemeis pronounced [ɔ], very close to the modernSeoulversion of the vowel transcribedŏ, which in many parts of the country is still pronounced [ə]. That accounts for the first vowel of the usual spelling Seoul (= Sŏul), based on a French system of romanization, and for the use of the lettereto writeŏin the Yale system.

The vowel nucleus consists of a simple vowel, which may be preceded byyorw. The McCune-Reischauer romanization puts a breve (˘) over the lettersuandoto distinguish the originally unrounded vowels [ɨ] and [ə] (= Seoul [ɔ]) from their rounded counterparts [u] and [o]. (Unrounded vowels are said with a tight smile; rounded vowels with pursed lips.) The Yale romanization uses the letterufor the unrounded [ɨ] and writes [u] aswubut encourages the omission of thewafterp, ph(=p),pp, m, andy, where the rounding has become nondistinctive in modern Korean. The front vowels transcribed ase= [e], andae= [] or [æ] were originally diphthongs, as shown by the complex Hangul symbols reflected in theeyandayof the Yale romanization. The vowelaeis no longer kept distinct fromein southern Korea and the distinction is virtually lost in modern Seoul, though it is maintained in the spellings. Another old diphthong, originally [oy], is transcribedoe(Yaleoy) and sometimes pronounced as a front rounded vowel [ö], though it commonly sounds the same as the less common diphthongwe, which is often simplified to juste; the surname Choe may be said as if spelled Chwe or Che. The old diphthong [uy] became modernwi[wi] and is so pronounced by most speakers, but some people use a front rounded vowel []. The old diphthongŭi[ɨy], into whichăe[əy] merged, was largely replaced by [ɨ] (initially) or [i], but it is maintained in spelling certain words of Chinese origin such asŭiŭi[ɨ:i] meaning and in writing the particle-ŭi[e] of (but not the homonymous particle-eto or in). The older version as a diphthong has regained popularity in modern Seoul in words such asŭijachair (said as three syllables), probably as a result of reading pronunciations.

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While much is known aboutMiddle Korean, the language spoken in the 15th century (when the script was invented), information about the language before that time is limited. Several hundred words of early Middle Korean were written with phonograms in the vocabularies compiled by the Chinese as far back as 1103. A still earlier form of the language, sometimes calledOld Korean, has been inferred from place-names and from the 25 poems (calledhyangga) that were composed as early as the 10th century and reflect the language of theSillakingdom. Written with Chinese characters used in various ways to stand for Korean meanings and sounds, the poems are difficult to decipher, and there is noconsensuson the interpretation of the content.

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Koreansentencesare very similar to those ofJapanese, though the words sound quite different. Modifiers always precede what they modify. The unmarked order is subject + indirect object + direct object +predicate. Only the predicate is essential, and other information may be omitted. Actions are expressed by processivepredicates(= verbs), such asmŏgŏ[someone] eats [it] andanja[someone] sits, characteristics by descriptive predicates (= adjectives), such astŏwŏ[it] is warm andcho(h)a[it] is good (or I like it). A special kind of descriptive, the closely attached copula (linking verb), predicates nouns, as intoni(y)aits money andchayaits tea. The descriptive predicates can only make statements or questions, but the processive predicates can also make commands and suggestions, so that (depending on intonation)anjacan mean I sit, Will you sit?, Sit!, or Lets sit!;tŏwŏmeans only Its warm or Is it warm?. The predicate is an inflected form consisting of a stem + an ending:mŏgŏconsists of the stemmŏk-eat and the infinitive ending-ŏ, which takes the shape-awhen the preceding vowel isaoro, as inanjafromanch-sit andcho(h)afromchoh-be good/liked, and also (when the infinitive is sentence-final) in the copulai(y)afrom the stemi-. A final particle-yois often added to the infinitive to show friendly politeness, as inmŏgŏ-yoandcho(h)a-yo; the copula takes the shapeie-yoor(y)e-yo, as intonie-yoandchae-yo. Nouns attach particles to show their roles in the sentence. The subject is marked by-iafter a consonant or-gaafter a vowel (but in the 15th century-ywas used), and the direct object is marked by-ŭlafter a consonant or-lŭlafter a vowel. These case markers are often omitted or are masked by particles of focus such as-doand-toalso, even, used to highlight a word, and-ŭn(after a consonant) or-nŭn(after a vowel), used to background a topic. The indirect object is usually marked by(h)anteor (less casually)ege, as inŏmŏni-ga ttar-(h)ante ton-ŭl chueThe mother gives the daughter money.

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When they are initial, the simple stopsp, t, andkare pronounced much as in English (pie,tie,kite), with lightaspiration. When final, they are cut off with no release, as in one way of saying English Up! Out! Back!. Theaffricatechoccurs in the wordchiphouse, which is pronounced with a sound intermediate between Englishchipandcheap; some speakers, especially before the back vowels, pronounce the affricate as a nonpalatalized [ts], and that is thought to have been its 15th-century pronunciation. Between voiced sounds (which include the vowels andy, w, m, n, ng, l, andr), the stops acquire voicing, and that feature is noted in the McCune-Reischauer romanization (but not in the Hangul spelling or the Yale romanization):ipmouth butib-ein the mouth,matfirstborn butmad-adŭleldest son,akevil butag-inevil person. Final-psometimes represents a basicp(apfront butap-ein front) orps[pss] (kapprice butkaps-ŭlthe price [as object]). A finaltsometimes represents a basict(mitbottom butmit-eat the bottom),j(natdaytime butnaj-ein the daytime), orch(kkotflower butkkoch-idaits a flower); more often, however, a finaltrepresents a basics(otgarment butos-ŭlthe garment [as object]). Some speakers regularize the basic forms of nouns (but not verb stems) so that for them the nonfinaltalways represents basics; they saypas-eyfor the standardpat-eyin the field. The single liquid phoneme has two predictable pronunciations: a clear (and sometimes palatalized) lateral [l] when it is at the end of a syllable or doubled [-l:l-], otherwise (and also beforeh) the flap [r]. TheMcCune-Reischauertranscription writeslorrin accordance with the pronunciation, which is ignored by the Hangul spelling and the Yale romanization:ilone butir-wŏnone Wŏn,nalday andnal-loby the day butnar-eon the day. There are problems involving initialrandnthat are reflected in newspaper references to President Roh (pronounced No). The Korean language borrowed some Chinese words beginning with a liquid ([l] in Chinese), and Koreans tried to pronounce them with anr, but they were generally successful only when the element was not initial in a word; when the liquid was initial they used anninstead. The second syllable oftorostreet is the same element as the first syllable ofnosangon the street (which is spelled with ann-in South Korea but with anr-in North Korea). There is an added complication: in the southny-andni-(whether from originaln-or fromr-) dropped the nasal, and that is when the common surname borrowed from Chinese Lĭ became Yi. The name is still pronounced [ni] in parts of North Korea, though the reading pronunciation [ri] has spread inPyŏngyangsince 1945. In modern times, loanwords from English, Japanese, and Russian have brought in an initial [r], and that is usually pronounced as a flap.

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