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Old 06-29-2012, 10:10 PM
 
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Sorry for not being able to tell the difference, but I understand neither, and am Chinese. It is especially embarrassing as I live in Irvine (a suburb of Los Angeles with quite a few Korean speakers, but not as much Japanese).

I used to be able to tell the difference, but now all I know is that both are polysyllabic languages and they are both Altaic. So I suppose the difference is about as great as English and Spanish (both Indo-European?)

I don't understand how Korean is polysyllabic, though. Their surnames are monosyllabic and their given names are mono- or bisyllabic, like Chinese. Furthermore, each Hangul character represents only one syllable. Is it because each Hangul character does not represent a thought in itself and only can when in conjuction with another character? In Chinese, each Hanzi character is a thought/prefix in itself, and often are words in themselves. Bisyllabic words are often compound words. How is Korean different?

The two languages, I heard, have similar grammar and phonetics (including vowel harmony). It is often said Japanese has a pitch accent (like Shanghainese, which is considered marginally tonal) but Korean sounds much less monotone. However, I heard Korean is not tonal either. How does this work?
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Old 06-29-2012, 10:41 PM
 
Location: Macao
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Japanese syllables are all consonant-vowels, where Korean can also have consonants at the end of their vowels.

Korean can also have spit sound in the throat at times.

Neither is tonal. Grammar even with case markers is very similar.

Thinking about it, the easiest way to tell them apart is from the endings if sentences. Usually I'll hear yo, nida, etc in Korean, whereas in Japanese I'll hear wa, and other endings.
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Old 06-29-2012, 11:26 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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I don't think they sound similar to each other, really, a lot of it is in the tone (no neither are truly tonal but they do have a way of speaking).

It's weird, on paper Korean resembles Chinese a little (even though unrelated) but spoken it's nothing like it.
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Old 06-29-2012, 11:27 PM
 
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Not sure if this helps, but I find Japanese sounds staccato where as Korean slurs together. (And this is coming from someone with proficiency in one, and basic knowledge in the other).
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Old 06-30-2012, 10:24 AM
 
Location: US Empire, Pac NW
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Japanese to me sounds "sharper". Can't really describe it any better.
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Old 06-30-2012, 12:44 PM
JL
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SolitaryThrush View Post
Not sure if this helps, but I find Japanese sounds staccato where as Korean slurs together. (And this is coming from someone with proficiency in one, and basic knowledge in the other).
I concur.
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Old 07-12-2012, 09:48 AM
 
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Here's an interesting comment made by our Chi Kung teacher who is Korean and does not speak Japanese. One of the students in the class is an older Korean lady who does speak fluent Japanese so that's how I communicate with her. One day we were talking and the teacher was listening. She said "It sounds just like Korean except all the words are in the wrong place." She's right. But there are also a lot of words that are the same in both languages. Those are the words that entered both languages from Chinese.


I also think that spoken Korean expresses emotion in a more overt way than Japanese.
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Old 12-29-2016, 03:52 PM
 
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
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The easiest way to tell if you are hearing Korean and not Japanese (this is an extreme simplification) is that you will hear a word which sounds like "SUMIDA" spoken frequently in Korean. It will make its way into the conversation sooner rather than later.
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Old 12-30-2016, 09:20 AM
 
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Korea might have adopted some Chinese systems in its language such as characters and people's names but it's not a Sino-Tibetan language. Same with English and the Latin alphabet and classical word roots.

I think Japanese can be more sibilant and sharp as others have said, whereas Korean can sound a bit mumbly or like they're swallowing some of the sounds. From a distance it can sometimes be hard to tell but get closer to the conversation and you should be able to tell the difference once you've heard them being spoken and had them identified for you.
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Old 12-30-2016, 09:21 PM
 
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Clarification, Korean doesn't use characters, it uses an alphabet. The letters are just arranged into "blocks," with each block being a syllable that is read. So each block are one syllable by design but many words are not one syllable and and all syllables in Korean are words.

Comparing it to English, it would be like if "Money" way written as "Mo""Ney" (letters in a block being organized top to bottom, left to right, as in Korean). Similarly, "Mo" and "Ney" themselves are not words in English, although it is the case in some words, such as "Can" in "Can""Dy." Also, for clarification, Korean has spaces between words. Japanese use characters much more often as the language still utilizes Kanji, while Hanja has largely been abandoned by Korean in North Korea and slowly pushed to the side in South Korea.
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