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歐博思

Learning Chinese and Korean concurrently - reasonable?

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歐博思

Chinese is and has been my main study for nearly 3 years now and I would say have just now breached the solid intermediate threshold, but one year ago I met my girlfriend whom happens to be Korean (we met in Chinese class :P ). Being with her makes me want to learn Korean to be able to talk to her, and her family and friends in Korean. But I am wondering if these two particular languages are not easy to learn concurrently?

Can anyone who has also studied Korean let me know how it went? I am at the point in Korean where I know all the sounds and pronounce them all well, but have yet to dive into any solid material.

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doraemon

I haven't studied Korean before, but all I can say is, learning multiple languages at once can either be conveniently complementary or extremely confusing, depending on which perspective you take. I'm learning Russian, Spanish and Japanese at the moment, 3 vastly dissimilar languages, and even though I'd rather learn them one by one, that wouldn't be very feasible due to time constraints (which I set for myself hehe).

My knowledge of Chinese has helped me with learning Japanese words, but I quite often get muddled between the three languages as well. For example, when I'm replying "yes" to a question in Spanish class, I often have to think whether I should be saying "hai", "da" or "si", and 9 times out of 10, I get it wrong the first time. XD

I'm not really sure about Korean, sorry, but I guess it should be more similar to Chinese than any European language...

But hey, if you feel like you want to have a crack, go for it! It can be quite interesting, albeit frustrating at times lol.

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Glenn

The vast number of Chinese words that made it into Korean will be a help to you, as well as already knowing the hanja (even though they only ever seem to use them to disambiguate homonyms, but I think they should be in dictionaries... just guessing on that one). What will be difficult will be the overt topic marker and overt subject marker, and if they're anything like they are in Japanese distinguishing between contrast/topic for the former and natural description/focus for the latter will be difficult. Aside from that, from what I understand Korean is highly inflective, so "but", for instance, is built into verb inflections as opposed to being a separate word on its own like in English or Chinese. And then there are the politeness levels and knowing when to use which one with whom and the honorifics, which I assume are almost a language unto themselves (that's kind of how they are in Japanese).

I don't know Korean, but I know Japanese, and I've read in many places that the two are nearly identical as far as morphology and syntax, they just use different sounds (well, I'm sure it's more complex than that, but anyway). So take that for what it's worth. Do we have any Korean speakers on the forums, by the way?

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heifeng

I vote you act like a tennis shoe and just do it! B)

I've known some people doing this and they didn't seem too confused. Usually for a grad degree in Chinese you would need to learn another East Asian language, so this isn't that uncommon. I might jump on board to learn as well one day...Chinese subtitles on Korean dramas are just too small...heh

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Aaron MH

Hi - I'm quite fluent in Chinese and began learning Korean on and off since 2005 - I'm still only beginner level in that language but that is because I haven't put as much time into learning it and have had no Korean environment to practise in.

When I started learning Korean it was a bit tough for me to speak it as my brain still hadn't sorted out a spot for my 3rd language - as strange as it sounds French kept trying to come out of my mouth (the language I learnt at high school and subsequently forgotten). Speaking from experience, your brain can find it difficult to split up between languages learnt as a non-native language - at least until generally you have learnt your 3rd language after which your brain can systematically sort and order itself better.

Anyway back to the topic. I have found Korean to be not as difficult as I first thought. With estimates of 30% of the South Korean vocabulary derived from Chinese and the fact that many of the modern words are English derivatives combined with an alphabet style system of writing it is relatively easy for a native speaker of English who has also learnt Chinese - of course the grammar can be the killer. Once again though, this is from my experience in learning Korean AFTER already learning Chinese to a level of reasonable fluency. I would probably be concerned trying to learn the 2 languages at the same time as you may confuse some of the words that are similar.

All the best!

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Lu

In high school I learned English, German and French all at the same time, in addition to Latin and ancient Greek. By the end of high school I spoke fine English and German and not too great French (because the teacher was not too great). Now I'm fairly good at learning languages and I was still at young enough an age to make it stick easily, but fwiw it's certainly possible.

Good luck!

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歐博思

haha I was leaning towards the tennis shoe method Heifang, and regarding Kdramas I recommend Secret Garden.

Doraemon, before i used to study chinese and spanish at the same time and I had this happen too. My cousin actually studies Russian so I hear about it from him. Off topic a bit - what do you think about Russian music?

Lu, since you said your teacher wasn't that great so this may be a biased question but perhaps you didn't learn French as well because you were more passionate about the other two languages? I mean, which cultures did you like the best

It seems that as long as I can keep vocab straight that this is doable. Any Korean speakers on the board that can provide any insight? I would appreciate it!

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Glenn

I'm curious to know if NOT putting tones on words will be a problem. It takes so much effort to get them down in Mandarin that I've caught myself thinking about tones on English words before, so I can only imagine what it would be like going into a 3rd language (English is my 1st).

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doraemon

@欧博思: I absolutely LOVE Russian music. Actually, I just like Europop in general over anything else, but Russian sounds the best to me. What about you?

I really like MakSim, Dima Bilan and Alex Vorobyov. Have you heard of them? :mrgreen:

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Lu
Lu, since you said your teacher wasn't that great so this may be a biased question but perhaps you didn't learn French as well because you were more passionate about the other two languages? I mean, which cultures did you like the best
I wasn't particularly passionate about either culture, at the time I was just doing the homework as instructed (and watching a lot of American movies and series and such, which must have helped even though that's not why I watched them). I did like German more than French, but also that French teacher rarely made us talk, which didn't help.

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Aaron MH
I'm curious to know if NOT putting tones on words will be a problem. It takes so much effort to get them down in Mandarin that I've caught myself thinking about tones on English words before, so I can only imagine what it would be like going into a 3rd language (English is my 1st).

While Chinese has tones that give otherwise similarly pronounced words a completely different meaning, English too has tones which affect the degree and/or expression of meaning. Just try saying a statement sentence by itself, and then with sarcasm, or change it into a question. I believe it is through tones that one can often distinguish a native speaker from that of a non-native speaker in almost any language. Korean would be no different, it is just a matter of getting 'a feel' of the language. I don't think it would too hard to mess up 'tones' for Korean more than any other non-native learner of the language.

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Glenn

It sounds like you're talking about inflection. I'm talking about phonemic tones. That is, a change in tone is a change in the word. Inflection is different, because the words don't change, although what you may mean by them can. Mandarin has phonemic tones. English and Korean do not. I was wondering if coming from Mandarin whether it's hard sometimes to not want to put a tone on a word that doesn't have one, just because you're used to them being there.

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Aaron MH

Yes - inflection it is, I'm sorry if I simplified the language and content of my earlier post too much.

I can say I haven't had any problems in unnecessarily adding tones when speaking Korean, but then again I didn't pay too much attention to tones when learning Chinese either (perhaps for the worse); I just understood there were tones and learnt how they worked and then went for the 'feel' of the language and not whether this word when written had a number 3 or 4 written over it.

I personally don't think a Korean person will look at you much differently if you do somehow add a tone or 2 into your speech :)

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歐博思

English phonemic tone example:

rècord - the place where music is stored for a record player to play it.

recòrd - the act of recording music i.e. in a recording studio.

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Glenn

That's accent, and it's stress and duration, not tone. Pitch does play somewhat of a role, but not the contour. Mandarin also has accent and stress. But it has tones on top of that.

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bhchao

If you are confident and satisfied with the level of your Mandarin fluency, then I don't see a problem with learning a new language. Usually learning two languages concurrently when you are a novice in both languages is not a good idea because doing so may cause you to lose focus.

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tooironic

As others have said, just do it. :P

I'm fluent in Mandarin but have been learning Korean on and off for the past year. I find it really fun, albeit difficult at times, especially grammar and pronunciation. It's true that there are lots of things which make it easy - alphabet, English and Chinese loan words, etc - but one aspect which doesn't seem to have been mentioned yet is the culture and the people which trumps all of this. I find Korean people, generally speaking, extremely helpful with my learning their language - even if they struggle to explain grammatical nuances at times. And, again, I am generalising, but their easy-going and fun nature has given me a lot of motivation to keep going with the language, even when I struggle at times. This makes a big difference I think when you're learning a second (or should I say third) language.

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renzhe
English phonemic tone example:

rècord - the place where music is stored for a record player to play it.

recòrd - the act of recording music i.e. in a recording studio.

That's not quite right, as these two words are pronounced very differently. The "e" and "o" represent different phonemes.

It is right in principle that English (and many other words) use vowel length and stress and that this can help disambiguate similar-sounding words (for example, many Germans have problems with "fifteen" and "fifty"), but these are not tones.

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