The English language is one of the most popular languages in the world. The number of speakers who speak English as a foreign language is greater than that of native speakers. Korean is an East Asian language that is the native language of both North and South Korea. The environment and distribution of the two languages are different from each other. However, there are still many similarities and associations between them in many ways.

First of all, both languages have a predefined set of vowels and consonants. There are five vowels and 21 consonants in English and 14 and 10 consonants in Hangul, the Korean alphabet. The number of vowels and consonants may differ, but their use is similar in both languages. 

Second, both the English and Korean languages allow the use of loanwords, which means that some English words have become a part of the Korean language and vice-versa. 

Lastly, morphology is the study of forms of words and their origins. Two parts of English grammar study are morphology and syntax, studied as separate branches. Similarly, in the Korean language, words are learned through morphology.

One noticeable difference between Korean and English can be decoded in terms of phonology. Korean is a syllable-timed language in which individual word stress is insignificant, whereas English is stress-timed. In other words, the rhythm and intonation of the Korean language are based on each syllable, while English derives its own from the distribution of stressed and unstressed syllables. This difference is mainly accountable for the extra syllable added by Koreans who are learning English as their second language; the syllable-timed structure of the language necessitates a vowel sound to be attached to a consonant sound. 

Moreover, there are some differences in terms of the alphabet sounds. English sounds such as ‘f’, ‘v’, ‘th’, and ‘z’ are missing in the Korean inventory, leading to substituting those sounds with the most similar ones. For example, a Korean might pronounce coffee as “coppee”, Vancouver as “bancouber”, think as “sink”, this as “dis”, pizza as “pija”, and so on. There is a certain degree of overlap in terms of vocabulary.

Many people usually think that Korean and English have nothing in common, but this statement is only true to some extent. There are many differences, such as characters, words, and grammar. However, as described throughout this article, there are still some similarities between the two languages, such as morphology, syntax, use of loanwords, and predefined sets of vowels and consonants.

Edited by Suwan (Hailey) Choi

Alexandra Park

Student of NLCS Jeju


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