So I collected some native Korean numbers and their old forms into a few columns. The last two are words specifically for days.

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The Roots column is what I observe to be common across the row, not something I know for a fact.

The dictionaries I consulted show the old forms, but do not mention etymological information earlier than that. I want to know if there have been any academic insights into the formation of these words.

  • 1
    A good tool to check for etymological information is the global lexicostatistical database. Here's their database on Korean. Watch out, the database may be very misleading to someone who isn't a trained linguist. It groups Korean under the "Altaic languages" superfamily, which is a controversial classification, and please remember that it is a statistical study so you need to watch out for false positive matches. The database will try to give etymology matches with Japanese, Mongol, Manchu, and Turkish.
    – dROOOze
    Mar 6, 2018 at 2:50
  • 1
    Ah. starling.rinet.ru. I use that for Chinese etymological data!
    – Kevin Li
    Mar 6, 2018 at 3:00
  • Their Chinese results are much more accessible to the layperson as Chinese is not classified as a language isolate, and has demonstrable connections to languages like Burmese and Tibetan. Most Korean roots are only confidently traceable to Middle Korean, and it is hotly debated whether some of the Kingdoms which have existed on the peninsula, during periods of political disunity, have ever spoken a unified language which is the direct ancestor of Korean. For your question, consider posting to linguistics SE for opinions/answers which are closer to academic truth.
    – dROOOze
    Mar 6, 2018 at 3:05

1 Answer 1


AFAIK, this is as far back as you can go. Korean is linguistically regarded as a language isolate, which has no sister languages anywhere else in the world. The comparative method, which is used for reconstructing older forms of languages, does not work for Korean.

The forms you find in the 옛한글 columns are the oldest attested forms of the words (from the 15th century). There are no older forms of those words that has been discovered, and they likely will never be.

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