Jump to content
Learn Chinese in China


Chinese Lexicon used in Korean/Japanese

Recommended Posts


I've been learning Korean and Japanese for quite some time, and have found that knowing Chinese helps a lot due to Korean & Japanese having a lot of vocabulary which has Chinese roots.


That is, a lot of the vocabulary in those languages has equivalent 漢子 which someone with knowledge of Chinese can guess at. My understanding is that a lot of this cultural exchange occurred during the Tang dynasty in both Korea and Japan and has undergone its own evolution, so perhaps the usage is not equivalent to the modern Mandarin one- but close enough. 


However, I have found some usages that seem to be common in both Korea AND Japan, yet don't map to anything I know of in Mandarin.


無料: free

割引: discount


What I want to know is:

- Did these commonalities in both Japanese and Korean occur due to an older Classical Chinese usage I am not aware of? (for example, Chinese as it was used in the Tang dynasty, which is no longer used)


- Was it due to Japan colonizing Korea and then influencing it? 


- Some other reason?


If anyone can shed some light, I'd be grateful!



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.


What is often called Sino-Korean is such a mix of different sources that it can be hard to separate them. The fact that Sino-Japanese and Sino-Korean have so much in common comes from a mixture of all the reasons above: preservation of Classical Chinese and Japanese colonial (as well as pre-colonial i.e. Meiji) influence.


I believe the majority are like 電話 which were coined in the Meiji Restoration, and it was the push of modernisation, especially in educational and intellectual life, which brought new concepts into the Sinosphere via these 和製漢語 wasei-kango into the Korean and Chinese languages. Whether the many upheavals (New Culture Movement, Cultural Revolution) that the Chinese-speaking regions went through reduced the effect or the extent to which the wasei-kango permeated is an intriguing question.


We shouldn't forget the sizeable amount of Korean-produced 한자어, Very rarely is the Chinese term closer to the Japanese term, usually for kun'yomi-derived terms like 場合 (vs Korean 境遇).


Anyone know a good etymological dictionary for Korean? I'm using the 뉴에이스 국어 사전, which works better for older vocabulary items I think. If there were only even a good historical dictionary, just with the dates (OK I know zDic is not too bad, but still...)!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...