Learning the Korean language can be challenging for non-native speakers. The complexity lies in the different speech levels and honorifics used depending on the person being addressed. Even simple questions like “Have you eaten?” have distinct expressions. Hindi, in comparison, only changes the last word of a sentence based on the person being spoken to. The Korean language has seven verb paradigms and an honorifics system that indicate formality and politeness. In real-life communication, both formal and informal speech are important, but classrooms and textbooks often focus more on formal speech. The language’s emphasis on age and social status can be overwhelming for learners. The rigid seniority-based way of thinking is deeply rooted in Korean culture, which can affect social hierarchies and interactions. Some argue that the language and culture should evolve to become more global and egalitarian. While jondaenmal (formal speech) shows respect for elders, it can also restrict freedom of expression. Some suggest eliminating jondaenmal and using only banmal (informal speech), or promoting a mutual use of both based on context. Understanding Korean honorifics becomes easier once learners comprehend the nature of Korean social culture.

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By hassani

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