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The Korean Language (Suny Series, Korean Studies) Hardcover – 11 Jan 2001

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 388 pages
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press (11 Jan. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0791448312
  • ISBN-13: 978-0791448311
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 2.5 x 23.4 cm

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Product Description

About the Author

Iksop Lee is Professor of Korean Language and Linguistics at Seoul National University and former Director of the Korean National Language Research Center. He has written numerous books on Korean linguistics, including Kugoahak kaesoal (An Introduction to Korean Linguistics) and Kugoa p'yogipoap yoan'gu (A Study on Korean Orthography). S. Robert Ramsey is Professor of East Asian Linguistics at the University of Maryland. His books include Accent and Morphology in Korean Dialects and The Languages of China. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Finally, a book with the answers, ... 27 Sept. 2001
By Gerry Bevers - Published on
Format: Paperback
I wholeheartedly recommend this book.
Actually, I do not have the English version of the book, but I do have the Korean version, which was supposedly translated into English by Professor Ramsey.
This book has been the answer to my prayers. I have been trying to learn Korean for the past twenty-five years and have had all kinds of questions about the language that average Koreans have simply been unable to answer. The main reason they have been uable to answer is because they were not used to looking at their language from a non-native speaker's point of view. Well, the writers of the "The Korean Language" finally look at Korean from my point of view.
This book discusses the differences between English and Korean and focuses on answering the nitpicky questions that native English speakers are likely to have when learning Korean. What made this book especially interesting for me was that it gave detailed explanations of all aspects of Korean without boring me with a bunch of linguistic jargon.
I must admit that I did get a little bored with the chapter explaining the writing system, "hangul," but in general the book was a very interesting read, beginning with the introductory chapter.
For beginning students this book may not be what they are looking for, but for the native English-speaking intermediate student and above whose goal is to achieve fluency in Korean, this book is a must-have.
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
good book 27 April 2002
By esseyo - Published on
Format: Paperback
Completely agree with the first reviewer. I have the English edition. I found every section interesting and useful. The design of the alphabet in "Korean Writing" (very unique design), the many sound changes described in "Phonology" that I wasn't aware of and issues it raises in spelling, the use of tones (!) in Middle Korean and in some dialects of modern Korean. But of course the majority of the book is on the grammar of the language. It has copious examples and employs a modest set of vocabulary items. Many lists abound including a list of 14 appellations that can be used to address a person (besides the many used to address relatives).
Like Ramsey's book on Chinese, this is a very well written book and employs a very pleasing font. Every example is in Hangul and accompanied by modified Yale Romanization. Initially, I was not happy with "sensayng-nim" preferring instead something more familiar (to me) like "sohnsaeng-nim" but then I realized the Yale Romanization is much closer in spirit to Hangul and superior to the romanization I was accustomed to.
I recommend this book for anyone learning Korean who want to see the big picture. The book is packed with useful information that learners would without doubt benefit from. I think even advanced students would find something interesting.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A good shot but not quite perfect . . . 20 Feb. 2004
By A. Holmes - Published on
Format: Paperback
Without a doubt this is one of the best books I have come across about Korean grammar etc. but I disagree violently with those who like the Yale romanisation. It's terrible! And if you look at reviews of other books like this at this web site you will find similar comments from others. McCune-Reischauer would have made this text less esoteric and more accessible, and this is a shame because it is a fine book, one of a kind which one rarely finds, and should have a rightful place on the personal shelves of anyone with an interest in speaking Korean.
In general terms, however, it also suffers as so many language texts suffer - bad typesetting, and in this case an emphasis mainly on the ordinary or "panmal" style of speech at the expense of the more "polite" forms, which are familiar from other books on this subject. There are also frequent typos which are confusing, and for these reasons I cannot rate it with a perfect 5.
For this I offer a sincere apology to the authors, who have undoubtedly produced a very important work, covering not only the history of the language, but also explain how the Koreans expressed themselves using Chinese characters before King Sejong's "Hangul" was invented. Definitely recommended! ^_^
For linguists, not learners. 25 Sept. 2009
By Kathryn A. - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Check the book on google books, see what you make of it.

I wish I had checked more thoroughly before I bought it. It seems to be very informative, but not in the way I am looking for. It reads like someone's Korean linguistics master's thesis. I assume if you already know Korean and are interested in it's linguistic intricacies and history then it might be worth a read. Probably better read in the original Korean in that case though. In any case, it's not for beginning or intermediate learners just trying to beef up their Korean power. I mean the (English) book has hardly any Korean to read in it!
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Not very well organized 6 Jun. 2008
By Francesco Carravetta - Published on
Format: Paperback
As I am italian and not english mothertongue I have had some trouble due
to the latinization of Hangul alphabet, which is made in the Yale system, the latter being very un-natural for an italian ear. There is indeed another system of romanization (i don't know its name) which is used in some pocket dictionary Korean-Italian-Korean, and is very different from Yale, but
very good for italians (and, maybe, for latin-languages speakers).

Indeed the main difficulty in learning Korean for westerners is learning the alphabet and the pronounce, and a good romanization helps a lot. The Korean grammar is not very difficult, compared with western languages (it is somewhat similar to turkish, but even more easy). I guess a
Finnish guy (turkish-like language) would find it straightforward..
The verbs are impersonal, and there are no irregular verbs. The adjectives are
verbs, and nouns declension is fixed, agglutinative and.. optional.
It is also a Language which has nice and 'logical' rules.

But the present book make the matter more difficult than it actually is.
Korean Language is suitable to be fully explained with some table, and surprisingly this book seriously lacks in tables..
Also, the book at issue has the bad habit of presenting almost always complex statements as examples, instead of making the more simple preceding the difficult ones.

Besides the above, the book seems complete, though it is difficult to be sure of its completeness, as one should be having read all the (difficult) examples of the book before to claim that...

About half book is full of historical notions and facts, and not
grammar. I don't know whether this is a value or not.
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