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Dialects and Translating Korean Language

When you translate Korean you must remember that there are different Korean dialects. Learning more about dialects can be important when working with language translation.

The Korean language is spoken by nearly 80 million people worldwide, primarily in the countries of North Korea and South Korea. Pronunciation and usage of the spoken Korean language varies between countries, but regional differences are not so great as to make the language unintelligible to speakers from different areas.

The difference between the Korean language spoken in North Korea and that of South Korea is similar to the difference between British English and American English.

Understanding the defintion of Dialect

A dialect means that in certain areas the speech may have some variation. The dialect generally applies to the vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation characteristic of specific geographic localities or social classes.

Common English Dialects - Comparison of American English to British English

To better understand dialects, it is helpful to look at English as an example. There are many different dialects of English; however, if you know English then you can still understand the different dialects. For example, in England you could easily pick up a British newspaper and be able to read it, but there will be some words which have different meanings than they do here in the U.S. For example, the British may say the sentence, “He is moving into his flat this weekend.” In America we would say, “He is moving into his apartment this weekend.” In the U.K. they simply use the word “flat” instead of “apartment” but you can still get the idea of what it is that they are saying.

In Systran’s Software we have built in the ability to translate using both the UK (British English) and American English dialects.

Spoken Korean Dialects

The Korean language has two major dialects as well as many regional dialects. The Seoul dialect is spoken in South Korea while the Pyongyang dialect is spoken in North Korea.

Written Korean (Characters)

When working with Korean translations you will need to learn more about written Korean characters than the spoken dialects. The Korean writing system uses Hangul, which is the native alphabet of the Korean language, It is the official script of North Korea and South Korea.
Hangul is a phonemic alphabet organized into syllabic blocks. Each block consists of at least two of the 24 Hangul letters (jamo), with at least one each of the 14 consonants and 10 vowels. These syllabic blocks can be written horizontally from left to right as well as vertically from top to bottom, columns from right to left.

What is Localization?

Localization is when you modify the translation for a certain dialect, area of specific culture. This is most important if a company is doing product development and advertising.

Systran’s Translation Software Uses International Korean

Systran’s translation software uses the International Korean dialect for translation and uses the Hangul letters. You can easily customize the Korean translations by training the software to recognize different words by building your own custom dictionaries and building the built in translation memory (professional translation software packages only).

See all Korean Translation Software


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