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Korean

Origin of writing in Korea


Chinese writing has been known in Korea for over 2,000 years. It was used widely during the Chinese occupation of northern Korea from 108 BC to 313
AD. By the 5th century AD, the Koreans were starting to write in Classical Chinese - the earliest known example of this dates from 414 AD. They later
devised three different systems for writing Korean with Chinese characters: Hyangchal (/), Gukyeol (/) and Idu (/). These
systems were similar to those developed in Japan and were probably used as models by the Japanese.
The Idu system used a combination of Chinese characters together with special symbols to indicate Korean verb endings and other grammatical
markers, and was used to in official and private documents for many centuries. The Hyangchal system used Chinese characters to represent all the
sounds of Korean and was used mainly to write poetry.
The Koreans borrowed a huge number of Chinese words, gave Korean readings and/or meanings to some of the Chinese characters and also invented
about 150 new characters, most of which are rare or used mainly for personal or place names.
The Korean alphabet was invented in 1444 and promulgated it in 1446 during the reign of King Sejong (r.1418-1450), the fourth king of the Joseon
Dynasty. The alphabet was originally calledHunmin jeongeum, or "The correct sounds for the instruction of the people", but has also been known
as Eonmeun (vulgar script) and Gukmeun (national writing). The modern name for the alphabet, Hangeul, was coined by a Korean linguist called Ju Si-
gyeong (1876-1914). In North Korea the alphabet is known as (josoen guel).
The shapes of the consonants are based on the shape the mouth made when the corresponding sound is made, and the traditional direction of writing
(vertically from right to left) most likely came from Chinese, as did the practice of writing syllables in blocks.
Even after the invention of the Korean alphabet, most Koreans who could write continued to write either in Classical Chinese or in Korean using
the Gukyeol or Idu systems. The Korean alphabet was associated with people of low status, i.e. women, children and the uneducated. During the 19th
and 20th centuries a mixed writing system combining Chinese characters (Hanja) and Hangeul became increasingly popular. Since 1945 however, the
importance of Chinese characters in Korean writing has diminished significantly.
Since 1949 hanja have not been used at all in any North Korean publications, with the exception of a few textbooks and specialized books. In the late
1960s the teaching of hanja was reintroduced in North Korean schools however and school children are expected to learn 2,000 characters by the end
of high school.
In South Korea school children are expected to learn 1,800 hanja by the end of high school. The proportion of hanja used in Korean texts varies greatly
from writer to writer and there is considerable public debate about the role of hanja in Korean writing.
Most modern Korean literature and informal writing is written entirely in hangeul, however academic papers and official documents tend to be written
in a mixture of hangeul and hanja.
Notable features of Hangeul
Type of writing system: alphabet
Direction of writing: Until the 1980s Korean was usually written from right to left in vertical columns. Since then writing from left to right in horizontal
lines has become popular, and today the majority of texts are written horizontally.
Number of letter: 24 (jamo): 14 consonants and 10 vowels. The letters are combined together into syllable blocks.

The shapes of the the consontants g/k, n, s, m and ng are graphical representations of the speech organs used to pronounce them. Other consonsants
were created by adding extra lines to the basic shapes.
The shapes of the the vowels are based on three elements: man (a vertical line), earth (a horizontal line) and heaven (a dot). In modern Hangeul the
heavenly dot has mutated into a short line.
Spaces are placed between words, which can be made up of one or more syllables.
The sounds of some consonants change depending on whether they appear at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of a syllable.
A number of Korean scholars have proposed an alternative method of writing Hangeulinvolving writing each letter in a line like in English, rather than
grouping them into syllable blocks, but their efforts have been met with little interest or enthusiasm.
In South Korea hanja are used to some extent in some Korean texts.
Used to write
Korean ( / ), a language spoken by about 63 million people in South Korea, North Korea, China, Japan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and
Russia. The relationship between Korean and other languages is not known for sure, though some linguists believe it to be a member of the Altaic
family of languages. Grammatically Korean is very similar to Japanese and about 70% of its vocabulary comes from Chinese.
The Hangeul alphabet ()

A recording of the Korean consonants by Ng Kiat Quan
The double consonants marked with * are pronounced fortis. There is no symbol in IPA to indiciate this.

A recording of the Korean vowels by Ng Kiat Quan
Note on the transliteration of Korean
There are a number different ways to write Korean in the Latin alphabet. The methods shown above are:
(first row) the official South Korean transliteration system, which was introduced in July 2000. You can find further details at www.mct.go.kr.
(second row) the McCune-Reischauer system, which was devised in 1937 by two American graduate students, George McCune and Edwin Reischauer,
and is widely used in Western publications. For more details of this system see: http://mccune-reischauer.org
Download
Download a Korean alphabet chart in Word or PDF format (letters arranged in South Korean order but without the double consonants).
Sample text in Korean (hangeul only)

Sample text in Korean (hangeul and hanja)

Transliteration
Modeun Ingan-eun Tae-eonal ttaebuteo Jayuroumyeo Geu Jon-eomgwa Gwonrie Iss-eo Dongdeunghada. Ingan-eun Cheonbujeog-euro Iseong-gwa
Yangsim-eul Bu-yeobad-ass-eumyeo Seoro Hyungje-ae-ui Jeongsin-euro Haengdongha-yeo-yahanda.
A recording of this text
Translation
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a
spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Korean Alphabet English Sound Pronunciation Example

g (initial)
k (final)
as in gold - kit

n (initial)
n (final)
as in near

d (initial)
t (final)
as in day - hat

r (initial)
l (final)
as in rabbit - ball

m (initial)
m (final)
as in moon
Korean Alphabet English Sound Pronunciation Example

b (initial)
p (final)
as in boy - map

s (initial)
t (final)
as in smile - rat

silent (initial)
ng (final)
as in kingdom

j (initial)
t (final)
as in joy - hat

ch (initial)
t (final)
as in chin - kit

k (initial)
k (final)
as in kid

t (initial)
t (final)
as in toy

p (initial)
p (final)
as in play

h (initial)
t (final)
as in hand - rat

gg (initial)
k (final)
as in great - back

dd (initial)
t (final)
as in desk - bat

bb (initial)
pp (final)
as in brain - snap

ss (initial)
t (final)
as in smile - rat

jj (initial)
t (final)
as in joy - hat
Korean Alphabet English Sound Pronunciation Example

a as in father

ae as in pay

ya as in yacht

yae as in yea!

eo as in young

e as in set

yeo as in young

ye as in yet

o as in yo yo

wa as in water

wae as in waiter

oi as in wait

yo as in yo yo

u as in cool

weo as in won
Korean Alphabet English Sound Pronunciation Example

we as in wet

ui as in we

yu as in you

u as in good

ui as in wisdom

i as in sheep
re you asking for how to write the sounds that letters make in Korean? For example Elf is (el-peu)? It's really hard to write out all of those
because it depends on the word since English doesn't have a strict letter=certain sound. a can be for example, it just depends on the
word. I'll try to make a list though I cant guarantee it's accuracy or that it's complete.
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R (note: is often used for "er" endings, for example Super is , but it's a vowel not a consonant)
S
T
U
V
W pretty much any of the double vowels like etc, it's a vowel with a w sound at the beginning but it's considered a vowel
X
Y any of the vowels with and extra line like etc, also like w this is considered a vowel, also for English words ending with an ee sound
(for example pony would be or I think)
Z
*Note for pretty much every vowel, it can be any vowel in Korean 'cause like I said, English isn't really strict in how the vowels are pronounced. I
tried to just put the more common ones.

So yeah might not be very accurate, but I tried. It's really hard to figure out something like this unless I had a compiled list of cognates between
Korean and English xD