Korean Numerals
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Korean Numerals

The Korean language has two regularly used sets of numerals, a native Korean system and Sino-Korean system.

Construction

For both native and Sino- Korean numerals, the teens (11 through 19) are represented by a combination of tens and the ones places. For instance, 15 would be sib-o (; ), but not usually il-sib-o in the Sino-Korean system, and yeol-daseot () in native Korean. Twenty through ninety are likewise represented in this place-holding manner in the Sino-Korean system, while Native Korean has its own unique set of words, as can be seen in the chart below. The grouping of large numbers in Korean follow the Chinese tradition of myriads (10000) rather than thousands (1000). The Sino-Korean system is nearly entirely based on the Chinese numerals.

The distinction between the two numeral systems is very important. Everything that can be counted will use one of the two systems, but seldom both. Sino-Korean words are sometimes used to mark ordinal usage: yeol beon (? ?) means "ten times" while sip beon (; ) means "number ten."

When denoting the age of a person, one will usually use sal (?) for the native Korean numerals, and se (?; ?) for Sino-Korean. For example, seumul-daseot sal (? ?) and i-sib-o se ( ?; ?) both mean 'twenty-five-year-old'. See also East Asian age reckoning.

The Sino-Korean numerals are used to denote the minute of time. For example, sam-sib-o bun ( ?; ?) means "__:35" or "thirty-five minutes." The native Korean numerals are used for the hours in the 12-hour system and for the hours 0:00 to 12:00 in the 24-hour system. The hours 13:00 to 24:00 in the 24-hour system are denoted using both the native Korean numerals and the Sino-Korean numerals. For example, se si (? ?) means '03:00' or '3:00 a.m./p.m.' and sip-chil si ( ?; ?) or yeol-ilgop si ( ?) means '17:00'.

For counting above 100, Sino-Korean words are used, sometimes in combination: 101 can be baek-hana or baeg-il.

Some of the native numbers take a different form in front of measure words:

Number Native Korean cardinals Attributive forms of native Korean cardinals
Hangul McCune-Reischauer Revised Hangul McCune-Reischauer Revised
1 hana ? han
2 ? tul dul ? tu du
3 ? set ? se
4 ? net ? ne
20 s?mul seumul s?mu seumu

The descriptive forms for 1, 2, 3, 4, and 20 are formed by "dropping the last letter" from the original native cardinal, so to speak. Examples:

  • ? ? han beon ("once")
  • ? ? du gae ("two things")
  • ? ? se si ("three o'clock"), in contrast, in North Korea the Sino-Korean numeral ? "sam" would normally be used; making it "sam si"
  • ? ? ne myeong ("four people")
  • seumu mari ("twenty animals")

Something similar also occurs in some Sino-Korean cardinals:

  • onyuwol ("May and June")
  • yuwol ("June")
  • siwol ("October")

The cardinals for three and four have alternative forms in front of some measure words:

  • ? ? seok dal ("three months")
  • ? ? neok jan ("four cups")

As for counting days in Native Korean, another set of unique words are used:

  • haru ("one day")
  • iteul ("two days")
  • saheul ("three days")
  • naheul ("four days")
  • datsae ("five days")
  • yeotsae ("six days")
  • ire ("seven days")
  • yeodeure ("eight days")
  • aheure ("nine days")
  • yeolheul ("ten days")
  • boreum ("fifteen days")

The Native Korean saheul (; three days) is often misunderstood as the Sino Korean sail (; ; four days) due to similar sounds. The two words are different in origin and have different meanings.

Cardinal numerals

Number Sino-Korean cardinals Native Korean cardinals
Hanja Hangul Romanization Hangul Romanization
0 ?[1]/? ?, ?, ? yeong, ryeong, gong -- --
1 ? ? il hana
2 ? ? i ? dul
3 ? ? sam ? set
4 ? ? sa ? net
5 ? ? o daseot
6 ? ?, ? yuk, ryuk yeoseot
7 ? ? chil ilgop
8 ? ? pal yeodeol
9 ? ? gu ahop
10 ? ? sip ? yeol
11 sib-il yeol-hana
12 sib-i yeol-dul
13 sip-sam yeol-set
14 sip-sa yeol-net
15 sib-o yeol-daseot
16 , sim-nyuk, sip-ryuk [note 1] yeol-yeoseot
17 sip-chil yeor-ilgop
18 sip-pal yeol-yeodeol
19 sip-gu yeor-ahop
20 i-sip seumul
30 sam-sip seoreun
40 sa-sip maheun
50 o-sip ? swin
60 , yuk-sip, ryuk-sip yesun
70 chil-sip ilheun
80 pal-sip yeodeun
90 gu-sip aheun
100 ? ? baek ?[note 2] on
1,000 ? ? cheon [note 2] jeumeun
10,000 ? ? man / ?[note 2] deumeon /
gol
100,000,000 ? ? eok ?[note 2] jal
1012 ? ? jo ?[note 2] ul
1016 ? ? gyeong -- --
1020 ? ? hae -- --
1024 ? ?[note 3] ja -- --
1028 ? ?[note 3] yang -- --
1032 ? ?[note 3] gu -- --
1036 ? ?[note 3] gan -- --
1040 ? ?[note 3] jeong -- --
1044 ? ?[note 3] jae -- --
1048 ? ?[note 3] geuk -- --
1052 or 1056 [note 4] hanghasa -- --
1056 or 1064 [note 4] aseunggi -- --
1060 or 1072 [note 4] nayuta -- --
1064 or 1080 ? ?[note 4] bulgasaui -- --
1068 or 1088 ? ?[note 4] muryangdaesu -- --

Pronunciation

The initial consonants of measure words and numbers following the native cardinals ("eight", only when the ? is not pronounced) and ? ("ten") become tensed consonants when possible. Thus for example:

  • yeol-dul (twelve) is pronounced like [] yeol-ddul
  • yeodeol-gwon (eight (books)) is pronounced like [] yeodeol-kkwon

Several numerals have long vowels, namely ? (two), ? (three) and ? (four), but these become short when combined with other numerals / nouns (such as in twelve, thirteen, fourteen and so on).

The usual liaison and consonant-tensing rules apply, so for example, ? yesun-yeoseot (sixty-six) is pronounced like [?] (yesun-nyeoseot) and chil-sip (seventy) is pronounced like [] chil-ssip.

Constant suffixes used in Sino-Korean ordinal numerals

Beon (?; ?), ho (?; ?), cha (?; ?), and hoe (?; ?) are always used with Sino-Korean or Arabic ordinal numerals. For example, Yihoseon (; ) is Line Number Two in a metropolitan subway system. Samsipchilbeongukdo (37; 37) is highway number 37. They cannot be used interchangeably.

906? (?) is 'Apt #906' in a mailing address. 906 without ho (?) is not used in spoken Korean to imply apartment number or office suite number. The special prefix je (?; ?) is usually used in combination with suffixes to designate a specific event in sequential things such as the Olympics.

Substitution for disambiguation

In commerce or the financial sector, some hanja for each Sino-Korean numbers are replaced by alternative ones to prevent ambiguity or retouching.

English Hangul Regular hanja Financial hanja
one ? ? ?[2]
two ? ? ?[3]
three ? ? ?[4]
four ? ? ?
five ? ? ?[5]
six ?, ? ? ?[6]
seven ? ? ?[7]
eight ? ? ?[8]
nine ? ? ?[9]
ten ? ? ?[10]
hundred ? ? ?[11]
thousand ? ? ?,[12] ?[13]

For verbally communicating number sequences such as phone numbers, ID numbers, etc., especially over the phone, native Korean numbers for 1 and 2 are sometimes substituted for the Sino-Korean numbers. For example, o-o-o hana-dul-hana-dul ( ) instead of o-o-o il-i-il-i ( ?) for '555-1212', or sa-o-i-hana (?-?-?-) instead of sa-o-i-il (?-?-?-?) for '4521', because of the potential confusion between the two similar-sounding Sino-Korean numbers.

For the same reason, military transmissions are known to use mixed native Korean and Sino-Korean numerals: ? ? ? ? ? ? ? (gong hana dul sam net o yeoseot chil pal ahop).

Notes

  • Note 1: ^ Korean assimilation rules apply as if the underlying form were |sip.ryuk|, giving sim-nyuk instead of the expected sib-yuk.
  • Note 2: ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ These names are considered archaic, and are not used.
  • Note 3: ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ The numbers higher than 1020 (hae) are not usually used.
  • Note 4: ^ ^ ^ ^ The names for these numbers are from Buddhist texts; they are not usually used. Dictionaries sometimes disagree on which numbers the names represent.

References

  • J.J. Song The Korean language: Structure, Use and Context (2005 Routledge) pp. 81ff.
  1. ^ NAVER Hanja Dictionary, definition 5
  2. ^ NAVER Hanja Dictionary, definition 1
  3. ^ NAVER Hanja Dictionary, definition 1
  4. ^ NAVER Hanja Dictionary, definition 1
  5. ^ NAVER Hanja Dictionary, definition 3
  6. ^ NAVER Hanja Dictionary, definition 7
  7. ^ NAVER Hanja Dictionary, definition 4
  8. ^ NAVER Hanja Dictionary, definition 8
  9. ^ NAVER Hanja Dictionary, definition 2
  10. ^ NAVER Hanja Dictionary, definition 3a
  11. ^ NAVER Hanja Dictionary, definition 1
  12. ^ NAVER Hanja Dictionary, definition 1
  13. ^ NAVER Hanja Dictionary, definition 6

See also


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