Posted in Korean Learning Log

Age in Korean — D-52

Yesterday I was reading in my lovely new News in Korean book, and I noticed something peculiar.  I was listening to the Audio recording of the 2nd article, which talks about senior citizens, and I realized that in the phrase “50세에서 64세까지의 인구” Hyunwoo used Sino-Korean numbers to say the ages.

Now, I’m definitely still not 100% confident about the different usages of the Native Korean number system versus the Sino-Korean number system, but there are several usages that I’m fairly confident about, and one of those was using Native numbers for age.  Since this is apparently not always the case, I immediately used Google to figure out what the heck was going on.

This led me to a website called Korean Champ, which had this to say:

“Besides a few rare exceptions, pure Korean is almost always used when discussing age. In newspapers, from time to time, you may see the word “세” preceded by a number, e.g., “25세.” In such cases, the age is read in Sino-Korean and pronounced “이십오 세 (iship-oh sae).” In real life, however, people rarely state their, or anyone else’s, age in this form and instead use pure Korean.” (source)

(*Note:  pure Korean = Native Korean)

So, apparently Sino-Korean is usually only used for age in newspapers and other formal situations.  That explains why I haven’t encountered it before.

Well, learn something new every day.  I believe that someday I will completely grasp all of the nuances of Sino-Korean numbers and Native Korean numbers, but today is definitely not that day.  One step at a time is all I can do.


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