Korean or Japanese - which is easier?

Caspian   Mon Mar 02, 2009 9:24 pm GMT

I'm contemplating learning Korean or Japanese. I am already at a beginner / intermediate level in Chinese, and can read a few hundred characters, but I'm leaning towards Korean because I already know the alphabet, and I've heard that it's easier than Japanese.

Any tips or advice?
wren   Tue Mar 03, 2009 3:07 am GMT
Korean. Knowing Chinese will complicate the learning of Japanese Kanji, as you'll have to remember what they mean in each language separately.
br   Tue Mar 03, 2009 4:40 am GMT
In most ways Korean will be easier, however Japanese is much, much easier to pronounce. Since you already know several Chinese characters, learening Korean would not conflict with your Chinese, but learning Japanese would make it more difficult and probably even undermine your Chinese.
FOX   Tue Mar 03, 2009 6:02 am GMT
Where have you heard that Korean is easier? The one thing about it that is simpler is its writing system. In other respects (grammar and pronunciation), Korean is more complicated.
Super Korean   Tue Mar 03, 2009 2:42 pm GMT
Both Japanese and Korean are very difficult languages for native speakers of English and other European language speakers.
Japanese is easier to pronounce because of the simpler phonetic rules; Korean has a much easier writing system. Korean writing system, Hangul, is very logical and works so well that Korea can boast around 99% literacy in the whole country.
If you learn Japanese up to an intermediate level, you have to study at least 2000 Kanji which might take your lifetime to learn. Plus, reading Japanese Kanji is not that simple as the characters can be read two or more ways - depending on the contexts and the usage. For example, "風" means "wind" and it can be read either "kaze" or "fu". In the word of "風船" , it should be read "FU-sen"; however, in the word of "神風", the "風" should be pronounced "kaze" and the word becomes "kamiKAZE". Also, the word "神" (meaning: god, ghost or spirit) can be pronouced either "kami" or "jin". In the word "神社", it is "JIN-ja" but in the word "神風", it is "KAMI-kaze". Non-native speakers of Japanese will never master these super-complicated rules.

The two languages' grammar systems(syntax) are pretty similar that are totally different from European languages. This enables the online translator works pretty well for translating Korean into Japanese and vice versa.
All in all, I would say they are around the same level in terms of difficulty.

<An excerpt from Wikipedi article>
"The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) of the US Department of State has compiled approximate learning expectations for a number of languages". Of the 63 languages analyzed, the 5 most difficult languages to reach proficiency in speaking and proficiency in reading (for native English speakers who already know other languages), requiring 88 weeks, are: "Arabic, Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, Korean", with Japanese being the most difficult.
...   Tue Mar 03, 2009 7:20 pm GMT
There was a previous post about this...
J.C.   Tue Mar 03, 2009 7:40 pm GMT
@Caspian 先生

As it has been aforesaid there was a thread on this subject sometime ago.
The link is as follows:


p.s Personally I think Japanese is more difficult and it will mess up your Chinese characters knowledge since you will have to learn to write all of them in a different way and also deal with different meanings and readings.
Caspian   Tue Mar 03, 2009 8:37 pm GMT
Right, thanks.

Korean it is, then...
Guest   Wed Mar 04, 2009 9:01 pm GMT
Haeng Un! (Good Luck!)
Blinc Blanc   Wed Mar 04, 2009 9:15 pm GMT
Korea is homophobic.
sego   Wed Mar 18, 2009 11:31 am GMT
I'm learning Korean and apart from the pronounciation, I'd say it's easier because you don't need to spend so much time learning 한자 (chinese characters) even though it helps if you'd like to speak very good Korean.
Anyway, check the pronounciation here :
Guest   Wed Mar 18, 2009 5:21 pm GMT
Japanese should adopt the Latin alphabet, it's even more suited for it than a lot of Western languages like all the Germanic and Slavic ones.
Guest   Wed Mar 18, 2009 5:34 pm GMT
<<Japanese should adopt the Latin alphabet, it's even more suited for it than a lot of Western languages like all the Germanic and Slavic ones. >>

We don't use the Latin alphabet, we use the Frankish alphabet--the next step in evolution of the old Latin-Roman-Cumae alphabet.

The Frankish alphabet is what you mean.
Frankish my ass   Wed Mar 18, 2009 5:39 pm GMT
Guest   Wed Mar 18, 2009 5:41 pm GMT
I wonder why English don't adopt the runes again.