10 In Korean learning journey (:

한국어의 부사 (sound symbolism)

Korean is such a fascinating language to learn. For English speakers, it may be tough at first, having to grapple with the reverse word order and the numerous particles and the myriad of pronunciation rules. As you get the hang of it, each new vocabulary and grammar construction becomes easier to learn and you start thinking ‘hey! Korean may not be so tough after all’.

But as you progress even further, you will find that Korean is not as simple as you thought it will be. Particularly sound symbolism. Korean is rich in sound symbolism and has loads of onomatopoeic expressions, usually in the form of adverbs.

Most of these adverbs combine with certain verbs only or has other restricted uses. There are also groups of onomatopoeic expressions. For example: 엉엉, 징징, 훌쩍훌쩍 etc are all expressions of crying, how do you when to use which? (examples from ‘Using Korean’)

There is also the differentiation of bright and dark vowels, with the bright vowels signifying something that is light and small and dark vowels the opposite. Tense and aspirated consonants are used to show the degree of the adverb and repetition is sometimes used too.

When to use which?

These are the questions that keep me baffled. I just came across a new adverb 착 in my reading and when I input it 네이버, 3 entries came out together with at least 7 uses!!

Koreans use alot of these sound symbolism in their daily speech but it’s something that learners will find it hard to acquire. I hope to incorporate them in my speech someday~ ^^


hahaha i deviated again. I missed Korea loads. I close my eyes and I can remember the streets and feeling of being in my most favorite country. sigh. ㅠㅠ

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  • Reply
    11 September, 2010 at 9:27 PM

    Hi! I dont think you would hav rmb me, it was too long ago which i leave a msg here, saying i was greedy, wanting to learn both jap and korean. haa. just wanna say, this blog is inspirational to me, one of which it reminds me that learning shdnt be a torture. and i realise i can learn them better without forcing myself on them. Thus, although is a pity that i will not retake my JLPT, i feel happier, trying to learn both languages at the same time, using my own way, my own time.
    Thank you for this 🙂 (By the way, I’m frm Singapore too) . Hav a great day!

    • Reply
      11 September, 2010 at 9:48 PM

      hey~! haha I remember you ^^ Yeah, I realised that sometimes if I force myself to learn, I don’t enjoy it at all. Especially if it’s languages. Glad to hear that you are enjoying your own language learning journey 😀

  • Reply
    11 September, 2010 at 11:45 PM

    i read about this on the same book. interesting that we have to be familiar with this kind of words, sometimes we get confused on what it is all about. thanks for the info shanna.

    i miss korea too.

  • Reply
    14 September, 2010 at 2:19 AM

    Hi there can i check with you how did you go about learning korean? through NUS Extenstion or SKS? or any other forms to learn the language?

    • Reply
      15 September, 2010 at 11:31 PM

      i took beginner classes at SKS and then self studied from then on. i used a combination of books and sites etc to help me in my learning journey

      • Reply
        16 September, 2010 at 5:05 PM

        Hi there…but how do you managed to continuously improve yourself without a teacher? I’m very amazed by your level of motivation really:) any tips on this?

      • Reply
        19 September, 2010 at 9:00 AM

        thanks (: having interest really helps i think ^^

  • Reply
    15 September, 2010 at 4:05 PM

    hey there

    i send you an email by you never reply..anyway i just wanna ask you the degree offered by NTU only major in liguistic alone?

    can we choose a language to major in, like hangul?

    • Reply
      15 September, 2010 at 10:48 PM

      Hi Jamie!

      so sorry i must have missed it >,< yup we major in general linguistics. we dont choose any language to major in. you can take korean classes but it will count as general electives. so far, ntu offers only up to level 3 for korean.

  • Reply
    17 September, 2010 at 1:51 AM

    hey shanna

    thanks for your reply…owhh that’s mean NTU linguistic course only specialise in linguistic?
    Isit that’s mean u learn more linguistic stuff than other uni who are major in a language and minor in linguistic?

    you must be very discipline to be able to learn da language by yourself. Im impress, i wish im as hardworking as you.

    btw how about the double major in LMS, major in LMS and minor in LMS? What’s the difference?

    im so sorry bombarding you with questions but i tried and called NTU. But the lady said she don’t know anything. I asked either can i speak to someone else but she asked me to wrote them an email instead. I emailed them twice but i dont really get what they are saying.

    so i hope you can help me.

    by the way if i have any korean question, i can ask you right?

    Thanks and sorry once again

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