|Linguistic classification||One of the world's primary language families|
Current extent of Koreanic as majority and minority (dashed) languages in East Asia
Koreanic is a small language family consisting of the Korean and Jeju languages. The latter is often described as a dialect of Korean, but is distinct enough to be considered a separate language. Alexander Vovin suggests that the Yukjin dialect of the far northeast should be similarly distinguished. Korean has been richly documented since the introduction of the Hangul alphabet in the 15th century. Earlier renditions of Korean using Chinese characters are much more difficult to interpret.
All modern varieties are descended from the Old Korean of the state of Silla. The little that is known of other languages spoken on the peninsula before the Sillan unification (late 7th century) comes largely from placenames. Some of these languages are believed to have been Koreanic, but there is also evidence suggesting that Japonic languages were spoken in central and southern parts of the peninsula. There have been many attempts to link Koreanic with other language families, most often with Tungusic or Japonic, but no genetic relationship has been conclusively demonstrated.