I've discovered this quotation in Wikipedia, that paragon of scientific knowledge: “However, Korean is considerably easier for speakers of certain other languages, such as Japanese; in Japan, it is more widely studied by non-heritage learners.” Is it true that Japanese is considerably easier for native speakers of Korean to learn? What other languages (as suggested by the quotation and reasonable inferences) will native speakers of Korean have an easier time learning than other languages?
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Dear Kiss Ass,
While Wikipedia has numerous inaccuracies regarding Korea (e.g. about Koreans’ dog-eating habits,) what you read is correct – Korean language is very easy to learn for Japanese speakers. The reverse is true as well.
It is actually not too difficult to realize the reason once the two languages are compared. Both Korean and Japanese utilize Chinese characters. Korean and Japanese have a similar grammatical structure, with a heavy usage of particles, honorifics, subject-object-verb sentence construction, and many other things that bedevil a Romance language speaker, for example. (In fact, based on the Korean’s limited knowledge of Japanese, it seems that Japanese grammar is almost like a simplified Korean grammar. But he could be wrong on this count, since the Korean’s knowledge in Japanese is really rudimentary.) Both languages also have a very similar set of sounds for pronunciation.
On top of that, because Korea (voluntarily and involuntarily) relied on Japan to be introduced with modern objects and concepts, many of the words in both languages use the same Chinese characters. This is in contrast with the Chinese character usage between China (ironically) on one hand and Korea/Japan on the other. To give an example of a modern contraption, in both Korean and Japanese, a camera is 寫眞機 (pronounced sa-jin-gi in Korean, sha-shin-ki in Japanese), which translates to “truth-copying machine”. But in Chinese, a camera is 照像機 (pronounced zhao-xiang-ji), which translates to “image-lighting machine”.
What other languages would Korean speakers have an easier time learning as opposed to others? The Korean has heard that Mongolian and Cherokee are similar to Korean, but these are all hearsay. Among the languages of which the Korean has some rudimentary knowledge, the Korean (surprisingly) found Latin to be very similar to Korean. The noun conjugation in Latin is comparable to adding a particle to a noun in Korean, which was rather interesting. But it is not as if the Korean knows all the world’s language, so there is really no way for him to definitely answer that. Readers are welcome to contribute.
Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at firstname.lastname@example.org.