CIT offers Korean interpreters and translators with legal, medical and specialty experience, including criminal and civil matters, employee meetings, engineering, patent cases, labor disputes, immigration and more.
Although based in Los Angeles, CIT offers comprehensive Korean language services including interpretation, translation and transcription, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, worldwide. Our interpreters and translators are native speakers who have been screened, certified, have provided credentials, field tested, and kept up to date with developments in both English and the Korean language through means such as lectures, conferences, and travel. CIT’s Korean language interpreters and translators possess in-depth knowledge of the Korean language, as well as of the culture and history of the Korean people, allowing them to provide informed and complete interpretation and translation.
The Korean Language
The Korean language is the primary language of the Korean peninsula. The ancestors of the Korean people came to the Korean peninsula and Manchuria around 4,000 BC. There are several theories regarding the beginnings of the Korean language.
Because of its many years of contact with Chinese and Japanese languages, it became difficult to isolate the origins of Korean. One theory, the Southern theory, indicates that the Korean language is part of the Austronesian family of languages. According to the Northern theory, Korean is part of the Altaic language family. Because of the many similarities between Korean and Japanese, many linguists believe that Korean might be part of the Japonic group of languages. Because there are discrepancies as to which group the language belongs to, many linguists classify the language as its own.
There are approximately 75 million Korean speakers worldwide. About two-thirds of the speakers reside in South Korea and the other third reside in North Korea. Korea is spoken by almost 3 million people outside of Korea in China, Japan, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, and the US.
From 1910-1945, when Japan occupied Korea, the official language was Japanese. The Korean language was banned and the Koreans were forced to change their Korean last names to Japanese ones. In 1945, after the end of the Japanese occupation, the Korean language reassumed the role of the official language in Korea. The same year, when Korea was divided into north and south, each of the Koreas established their own standard language. Today, the Modern Korean dialect is used in both North and South Korea.
Ancient Korean had two dialects: Puyo and Han. Puyo had previously been spoken in Manchuria and northern Korea, as opposed to Han which was spoken in southern Korea. In the 600s the Han dialect was more dominant. Presently, the standard Korean spoken in South Korea is based on the Seoul dialect whereas the standard Korean spoken in North Korea is based on the P’yongyang dialect.
Grammar and Writing
There are ten vowels in the Korean language. When a vowel is emphasized, it can change the meaning of a word entirely. There are 21 consonants. Just like the vowels, the consonant sounds can make a difference in a word meaning. Korean grammar is known to be quite complex. Unlike in many other languages, nouns are not specified for gender or number nor are there any articles. Verbs do not agree in number, person or gender according to their subjects. Politeness is what indicates the conjugation of a verb. There are several levels of politeness, or deference. They are high, middle and low and each level has sublevels, for a total of seven levels. In the Korean language, the level spoken is indicative of the respect the speaker has towards the listener or one who is reading.
Korean follows the Subject-Object-Verb word order. Considering that the Korean language had many Chinese characters, there are many Chinese loanwords as part of the vocabulary. Even though the Japanese had occupied Korea, there are not many Japanese loanwords. Additionally, there are loanwords from English.