Word Count: Japanese vs. Korean

I’m curious why the number of words necessary to “level up” in lingq is so much more in Korean than Japanese. Though I have never studied Korean, I was under the impression that the structure was relatively similar to Japanese. However while the word requirement to get to “Advanced 2”, for example, is 22000 in Japanese, it takes 42000 (almost double) in Korean. Anyone know why this is?

Hi amop567,
The known word count represents your potential in the language. The number of words needed to be comfortable in conversations will vary from language to language, since some languages are more inflected than others.
Hope this helps!

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I have no knowledge of Japanese. At least for Korean the word count needs to address this:

Those are a good set of official conjugations right there - I’m very sure there are many more than that including various modifiers for nuance. Then there are grammatical principles to convert verbs to nouns and be able to fill other uses in the language.

So I’m guessing Japanese might be similar in many regards and the people at LingQ just found that for the same breadth of expression, people can amass double the number of words (by LingQ’s definition) to get there.

IMHO the numbers are fairly arbitrary anyway. They serve simply as goal posts for those who want to work toward some ‘measurable’ achievement. Or thats my take anyhow

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I guess it means Korean is that much more complex than Japanese.
Structurally they are similar but Korean has a lot more variations in verb inflection as zoran mentioned.

To start with, while Japanese is based on 50 unique sounds, Korean can have over 10,000 theoretically, of which some several hundred are actually used.
In addition, there seems to be more ways of expressing things in many parts of the language.

The basic sentence endings are a good example.

In Japanese, verbs like する has the two forms する and します for present tense, indicative endings.
For the adjective きれい, there are きれい だ and きれい です.

In Korean, the corresponding endings are:
하다(する): 합니다 / 한다 / 해요 / 해.
예쁘다(きれい): 예쁩니다 / 예쁘다 / 예뻐요 / 예뻐.

So Korean has four to Japanese’s two for the most basic and common endings (both languages have more).

In another measure, about.com lists about 15 conjugations for する (Learn How to Conjugate the Japanese Verb "Suru").
For 하다, dongsa.net lists 37 (http://dongsa.net/?search=하다).

Given these greater variedness, I think it’s only natural the number of required known words for fluency is higher.

Still, this doesn’t necessarily mean Korean is substantially more difficult to learn overall than Japanese.
Things balance out because Japanese gets more difficult in one important aspect, which is kanji.
While Japanese requires it from early on, in Korean one primarily needs it for more advanced levels.
And kanji in Japanese are more difficult because they have multiple readings compared with each having a single unique reading in Korean.

So I think Korean and Japanese are similar in terms of the difficulty of learning, but Korean has a greater number of conjugated forms to master, and that is probably why LingQ’s known word count for fluency is higher for it.

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Thanks for the answers everybody. I wasn’t aware how many more conjugations there are in Korean. Seems a little more complex than Japanese. Interesting stuff!

Do the corresponding endings you’re talking about differ based on politeness like in Japanese?

Yes. There are two axes: formality and politeness.
For example: 합니다(formal-polite), 한다(formal-plain), 해요(informal-polite), and 해(informal-plain).

Politeness is about showing respect, while formality is about being stiff (addressing an audience, broadcasting, etc) or familiar in style.

I don’t know how they make a standard of the each level in every language here. But I assume for the basic root verbs or adjectives in the both languages have so many inflections or conjugations whatever it is called in linguistic terms. But for sure, Korean has more inflected forms than Japanese. For example, the ending of adjective in Japanese by and large has two forms, the one ending with “ee” or “na”. but they in Korean have more various and irregular forms at the ending. Not to mention, the same thing goes for the verb and adverb.
I heard Russian has the same deal because they have so many various words for the same root word.
If you have more question about learning Korean or something to share for learning Japanese since I am learning Japanese, let me know. Add me in Kakaotalk or Line, wmwvic. I am not that helping for Japanese learning but Korean definitely:)