22.03.2017 - 04.04.2017
An educational moment.
The written Korean is an artificial language, invented in the 15th century by scholars during a 3 year retreat at the order of the king, who wanted to give access to written language to the people who could not afford to learn Chinese. Fir a long time Chinese characters and Hangeul, the new language, coexisted. No more.
The Korean language has a number of big advantages over Chinese. It is not tonal. Chinese syllables can have up to 5 different meanings depending on whether the tone goes up, down, remains flat, goes up and then down, down and then up. I tried very hard when I arrived in Singapore and failed. I have no ear. Secondly: it has an alphabet. 28 letters that combine into words that combine into sentences. How neat. Third, it is a phonetic language, much more than English. I can read Korean aloud and people will understand, even if I don’t understand what I read. A letter can be pronounced in different ways depending on what follows, but there are rules. In short: it’s do-able. The grammar is another matter, as people speak differently depending on the status and the personal relationship with the counterpart – the so-called honorifics – but as a foreigner of a certain age, I can afford to simplify. Learning Korean will be difficult enough though, but it seems to be an excellent remedy against Alzheimer.