Re: Hangul leaves the nest...

From: verdy_p (
Date: Tue Aug 11 2009 - 01:18:42 CDT

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    > De : "Doug Ewell"
    > You know, like English.
    > This might be an interesting experiment for the Hangul enthusiasts who
    > have called it "the most perfect phonetic system devised" and "the most
    > efficient alphabet ever invented," and have claimed that virtually any
    > language could be written effectively in Hangul.
    > Fortunately, from the few available samples, Cia-Cia appears to contain
    > a high concentration of CV and CVC syllables, implying that Hangul might
    > not be such a bad fit. Personally, I hope it's a raging success for the
    > 80,000 or so speakers.

    This would be more problematic if the language had a high concentration of syllables with multiple vowels and/or
    diphtongs. Now that Korean has been fully encoded using only CV or CVC syllables instead of jamos, such languages
    that would need many CVV or CVVC would not get a good fit, unless they are written using the null-leading consonnant
    (N), breaking them into "syllable" _pairs_ (i.e. CV + NV, or CV + NVC).

    I also just wonder if the syllabic feature of Hangul is really necessary to write all sorts of languages, when in
    fact using only jamos without composing them into syllabic squares could also ease the conversion, if this feature
    in fact cannot correctly represent the syllable breaks using the composition square.

    An earlier encoding of Korean used only the base alphabet, and did not encode the syllable breaks directly (so there
    was no distinction between leading and trailing consonnants which are in fact the same letters, encoded differently
    only to allow syllabic separation, and then pseudo-compressed into CV and CVC "syllables").

    The best features of Hangul is not in the last compression step that is possible with its CV and CVC syllables, or
    in its composition squares (which may anyway help the reader), but exists elsewhere: it is in the simplicity of the
    graphic design, and in the way the base jamos are built by phonetic proximity. Also it avoids drawing the same
    letters differently : there's no case separation, the various glyph styles are still very near from each other,
    always keeping the same essential strokes ; I think that this is really what can explain why it is so simple to
    learn for children (and can then explain the very high litteracy, even in the poorest rural villages of North

    If you think that the explicit syllabic delimitations are a good thing, you could as well use the Latin script to
    create an orthography that requires the use of hyphens to delimit them.

    But it's true that it is dificult to group multiple Latin letters into syllabic squares like you can do with jamos,
    whose graphic design is much simpler and still readable when their size are reduced: imagine how difficult it would
    be to read distinctly a narrowed version of H or N or M within a syllabic square.

    But there are other reasons why European languages better benefit from a linear alphabet: most of them do not
    represent their semantic entities (words) as single syllables, and need the possibility to augment/derive them by
    adding prefixes and/or suffixes to create modified entities, sometimes even within the same morpheme (look at
    conjugated verbs whose derivation is used to alter the semantic, instead of using additional separate adverbs like
    in many Asian languages). Those modifications do not always create a new syllable, but can modify an existing

    If those European languages were written like Korean, the interest of the squares would disappear rapidly as these
    squares would not perfectly match with the morphemic delimitations. If you just use the Jamos that are part of the
    Hangul script, without keeping the squares, you'll immediaetly see that its set of letters is quite reduced, and in
    fact too small for many languages.

    The Cia-Cia community also admitted it when it had to resurrect some defunct jamos, and alter the meaning of some of
    them... Other Asian languages would even need either some more jamos, or some additional diacritics. However
    diacritics are not well fitted within the syllable squares, except if they are used only for the central vowel (in
    which case the diacritic can be drawn around the square). We then return to linear alphabets.

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