RE: Q.'s about hanja

From: Jungshik Shin (
Date: Tue Nov 07 2000 - 11:43:09 EST

On Tue, 7 Nov 2000, Marco Cimarosti wrote:

> SoHee Kim wrote:
> > > 1) Is it correct to say that hanja are only used for words
> > derived from
> > > Chinese, and never for genuninely Korean words?
> >
> > What do you mean by genuinely Korean words?
> It was just a poor expression. I meant "Korean words that were not derived
> from Chinese".
> (Of course, all words in a language are "genuine", whether or not they are
> loans from other languages.)
> What I actually wanted to ask is: "Are there any Korean words, *not* derived
> from Chinese, that can be written with hanja?"

I guess I answered this question partially in my message (which is still in
transit to the Unicode list)

> I know that this is the case for Japanese: kanji are used both for writing
> Chinese loanwords (called "on" reading) and Japanese words not known to be
> taken from other languages (called "kun" reading).
> So what I meant is: does Korean has something like this?

Yes, we had a couple of writting systems similar to Kanji/Kana
'combination' before the invention of Hangul. One of them was invented
in the late 7th/early 8th century by a famous scholar, a (illegimate)
son of one of the most respected Buddist monks in Shilla dynasty and
a Princess and is called 'Idoo'. We also had a writing system called
'Koo-gyol' and 'Hyang-chal' which continued to be used by lower-rank
civil servants to record transactions of properties and other things
well after the invention of Hangul.

Letters/characters used in those writing systems need to be added
to Unicode/ISO-10646.

The exact relation among Idoo, Hyang-chal and Koo-gyol is escaping
my memory at the moment. I'll get back to you when I have more
info. on this.

Anyway, no one used any of these systems these days.

Jungshik Shin

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