Macro-to-Micro Korean Word Order for Name, Address, Date and Time

Macro-to-Micro Korean Word Order for Name, Address, Date and Time


 

Korean is a ‘macro-to-micro’ language. Korean people think the universe is represented in the order of a set (macro) and then its members (micro). In identifying a person, place, and time, the most specific point appears last.

 

① Names in Korean

The order of a personal name follows the general Korean word order, which puts the broadest category first, and the most specific last. Korean names usually consist of three syllables, one syllable representing the family and two for the given name. Family names come first followed by the given name.

Macro-to-Micro Korean Word Order for Name

김 지수 [gim jisu]

This probably reflects the emphasis Korean society places on family above the individual, which is the opposite from the western world.

 

② Address in Korean

In the same manner, an address typically starts with the name of the city, then the next largest administrative unit, then the street or avenue, and finally the building number.

Macro-to-Micro Korean Word Order for Address

서울시 영등포구 여의나루로 42 [seoul-shi yeongdeungpo-gu yeouinaru-ro saship-i]
 

③ Date and Time in Korean

The larger-unit-first principle holds also for the date and time. Give the year, the month, the date, the day of the week, a.m./p.m., hour, minute, second.

2015년 9월 21일 월요일 오후 3시 10분 22초 [icheonship-onyeon gu-wol iship-il-il wolyo-il ohu se-si sip-bun iship-i-cho]

As you guys noticed, the word order clearly reflects the thought patterns of Korean people which are different from those of Western people.

 

Reference :

  1. Shin Ja J. Hwang. Terms of Address in Korean and American Cultures. The University of Texas at Arlington. 1991.
  2. Boye Lafayette De Mente. The Korean Mind: Understanding Contemporary Korean Culture. Tuttle Publishing; 2012.
  3. Chung S. What’s in a Korean address?. The Korea Blog. 2015. Available at: http://blog.korea.net/?p=3121. Accessed September 20, 2015.
  4. Dunbar J. 6 things you need to understand about Korean names. The Korea Blog. 2015. Available at: http://blog.korea.net/?p=14738. Accessed September 20, 2015.
  5. Young-Key Kim-Renaud. Korean: An Essential Grammar. Routledge; 2009.
  6. Ho-Min Sohn. The Korean Language. Cambridge University Press; 2001.
  7. Danielle Ooyoung Pyun. Colloquial Korean: The Complete Course For Beginners. Routledge; 2009.