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On the Popularity of Korean

  Tags: Korean
 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
Joined 4952 days ago

61 posts - 63 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Latin, Ancient Greek

 Message 1 of 4
24 February 2009 at 10:36pm | IP Logged 
Hello Professor

This question is more out of curiosity than anything else.

Why is Korean such a popular language to learn.

I see you are heavily involved in the language and I also see Moses McCormack is conversant in it, yet both of you are American and geographically distant from Korea.

Is it because there are are large and accessible Korean natives near you? Perhaps the language itself is attractive or indeed it has a certain chic factor in the US?


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Senior Member
Joined 4914 days ago

118 posts - 171 votes 
Speaks: German*, English, Russian, Esperanto, Ukrainian, Mandarin, Cantonese, French
Studies: Italian, Spanish, Korean, Portuguese, Bulgarian, Persian, Hungarian, Kazakh, Swahili, Vietnamese, Polish

 Message 2 of 4
24 February 2009 at 11:40pm | IP Logged 
You haven't noticed how good looking the girls are?

Besides that, the grammar is interesting and the sounds are more varied than Japanese. And it's a great challenge.

(I answered because I speak Korean too and I live in Australia... also geographically distant.)
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United States
Joined 5797 days ago

609 posts - 2100 votes 

 Message 3 of 4
25 February 2009 at 9:57pm | IP Logged 

I am not sure that Korean is such a popular language to learn. It is at least somewhat officially classified here in the U.S. as an "understudied" language, i.e., one for which there is a greater demand than supply of knowledge on the part of government types. Clearly the main issue here is that one of the last remaining residues of the Cold War is incarnated in North Korean military might, and then, of course, from a business perspective there is South Korean technological prowess and relative economic importance. From a sheer demographic perspective, too, with approximately 75 million speakers, it is very securely within the top 20 languages on the planet and so could/"should" easily receive more proportionate attention than it gets. Indeed, from a cultural perspective it has always been every bit as much an integral part of the East Asian cultural triangle as has Japan, but Japanese, which has 120 million speakers and might thus expect to receive something like 1.5x as much attention, has probably received about 15x as much instead, judging by books on it and about it and for learning it. Linguistically, too, Korean does have a number of features that make it not only extremely interesting but also a paramount challenge.

As for my own engagement with it, at times I honestly almost feel trapped, for as each book I publish on it leads to a contract for another even more interesting one (my next will be a Korean Fiction Reader in which I will at least attempt to sketch the developmental history of the modern short story), in a world that slots scholars into pigeonholed specializations, I feel myself dug-in and buried deeper and deeper.

Alexander Arguelles
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Joined 4952 days ago

61 posts - 63 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Latin, Ancient Greek

 Message 4 of 4
03 March 2009 at 9:06am | IP Logged 
Thanks for your reply.

Just as a point of interest, I happened to come across this post on the excellent omniglot website/blog/forum

What a wonderful chance find. What do you guys make of the offered translations?

Edited by ProfArguelles on 05 March 2009 at 7:10pm

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