Destinations Magazine

Handy Beginners Korean!

By Monkeyboygoes @MonkeyBoyGoes
Handy Beginners Korean!Eddie Izzard said it best when he spoke of the British and their attitude to second language acquisition: 'Two languages in one head!? No one can live at that speed! Good lord man'. 
Yes it's true, while the rest of Europe marches on like some kind of bilingual marching band, uniting together towards a big Euro shaped rainbow on the horizon, the poor Brits are left behind, menu in hand, voice raised, violently tapping a laminated picture of a hamburger and chips while a greasy-haired Spanish waiter stands perplexed, trying to make sense of his customer's monolingual ramblings.
Yet foreign language acquisition has proven to be beneficial in a number of ways, ployglots, the generic term for multilinguals, are scientifically proven to have denser gray matter in the brain, have a reduced risk of diseases such as Alzheimer's and have better luck with the opposite sex (well, that one's not scientifically proven but it's true!). Additionally and off-point, the same benefits can also be seen in those who can play musical instruments, especially the third one!
Moving on, statistics on foreign language ability in Britain make for grim reading. According to a wikipedia article on foreign language in the UK...
Despite the high rate of foreign language teaching in schools, the number of adults claiming to speak a foreign language is generally lower than might be expected. This is particularly true of native English speakers: in 2004 a British survey showed that only one in 10 UK workers could speak a foreign language and less than 5% could count to 20 in a second language. In 2001, a European Commission survey found that 65.9% of people in the UK spoke only their native tongue.
Compare this to rates of foreign language speaking in Sweden where 89% of citizens claim to know English to conversational level. Knowledge of other languages such as Russian and German are also at respectable levels. Malta, the Netherlands, Denmark and Cyprus can all boast 70% plus levels of citizen's with a good command of English. This makes pretty embarrassing reading for those aforementioned 65.9% of Brit monoglots.
But, ladies and gentlemen, help is at hand! In the form of your beloved author. For I am in the minority, I am a polyglot and by the end of this article you could be too! I want to share my knowledge with you. I want you to join me and 75 million other speakers of this Asian, language isolate: Korean.
So what about Korean? Firstly, Korean uses a script know as Hangul, and looks like this: 한글. It is the native alphabet of North and South Korea and consists of 14 consonants and 10 vowels. 
In Korean, sentence structure follows a Subject+Object+Verb order, so I go home becomes I는 home를 go. The 를 symbol, pronounced 'reul' denotes the object in the sentence. But, this is just a quick grammar intro and nothing to worry about if your confused, so let's get down to some simple phrases to bulk up that decaying gray matter!
The most important word you need to know in any language: Hello. And in Korean; 'hello' goes like this:
안녕 하세요-Ann-yong ha-se-yo and translates as 'are you well?' 
Next, goodbye: 안녕히 가세요- Ann-yong-hi ga-se-yo. This translates to 'go well'. 
The verb 'to go' is 가다- Ga-da. Korean is what's called an agglutinative language which means verbs are modified in sentences. That means ga-da is 'to go' but when you look at goodbye 'Ann-yong-hi ga-se-yo' you can see the 'ga' bit but no 'da'. The verb has been modified, 다 'ga' removed and 'se-yo' has been added, which is a polite request.
Next up: Whats your name? 이름이 뭐예요? 'I-ru-mi mwo-ye-yo?' 이름 'i-rum' means name. 이 'ee' is another subject marker which is generally used when a subject is brought up for the first time and 뭐 'mwo' means 'what'. 예요 'ye-yo' is just making sure you are being polite.
So we've got 'mwo', let's get the who, why, when, how and where down. Once you get these down you can be well on the way to forming basic sentences.
Who: 누구- noo-goo 
Why: 왜- weah
When: 언제- on-jeh
How: 어떻게- oh-toh-ke
Where: -어디- oh-di
So if you want to add 가다 ga-da (to go) to these words. Be sure to conjugate and remove 다 da, the adverb goes first and the verb second. Let's try 'where are you going?' which is 어디 가요? Oh-di ga-yo? Again, the 요 'yo' is just being polite. 'Why are you going?' is 왜 가요? weah ga-yo? Have a go at 'How are you going?' yourself. It's not too hard and these sentences will be easily understood by an impressed  Korean! 
Finally, let's join that less than 5% percent of people who can count to 20 in a second language. In Korean it's pretty easy! Check it out...
1. 일- il                                                                             11. 십일- ship-il
2. 이- ee                                                                          12. 십이- ship-ee
3. 삼- sam                                                                       13. 십삼- ship-sam
4. 사- sa                                                                           14. 십사- ship-sa
5. 오- oh                                                                           15. 십오- ship-oh
6. 육- yook                                                                       16. 십육- ship-yook
7. 칠- chil                                                                          17. 십칠- ship- chil
8. 팔- pal                                                                          18. 십팔- ship-pal
9. 구- gu                                                                           19. 십구- ship-gu
10. 십- ship                                                                      20. 이십- ee-ship
There you have it! Numbers 11-20 are basically translated as ten-one ten-two etc and when you reach 20; the translation is two-ten, so 70 for example've guessed it: seven-ten (칠십- chil-ship).
Nice to see you here on the side of the polyglot. Happy learning to all.
Words: Stephen Trinder
Photos: Benjamin Cowles

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