Re: Quick Question About Korean Input Methods

From: verdy_p (
Date: Sun Jan 03 2010 - 01:18:08 CST

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    "Charlie Ruland ☘" wrote:
    > please note that in modern Korean it is usually unnecessary to
    > ‘finalize’ a syllable in order to distinguish between initials and
    > finals. The reason for this is, of course, their distribution: any
    > consonant immediately followed by a vowel/medial is an initial: there
    > are no initial consonant clusters. Any consonant not immediately
    > followed by a vowel/medial is a final.
    > Please also note for the above that the ‘zero’ initial ㅇ is just like
    > any other initial that has to be input, and that ‘strong’ obstruents
    > that are written like double consonants (‘geminates’) have their own key
    > combination (SHIFT+‘weak’ obstruent) and count as simple initials.

    This may be true, but this does not solve the problem where a vowel is separated from the next by multiple
    consonnants. In this case, it is not easy to determine those that are final consonnants of the previous syllable,
    and those that are part of the next syllable (except the last consonnant in the group, which would normally belong
    to the next syllable).

    In that case you'll still need to press a key (such as the space bar) to terminate the final consonnants and avoid
    their interpretation as initial consonnants).

    The treatment of "geminates" is simplified because they are treated as if they were always a single letter (and they
    are typed with a single keystroke with SHIFT), so in that case, if there are two "identical" consonnants at end of a
    consonnant groups, it normally unambiguously means a double (SSANG) consonnant. This may be true when transcripting
    Korean words, but not when trasncripting borrowed foreign words (including those where the consonnants are not
    really geminated, but orinally separated by a almost must vowel, that the Korean phonology ignores or does not
    have), but the syllabic separation will remain where it is (including for example in morphemic radicals, if they are
    used creatively in Korean as well to create compound words).

    There are aslso difficulties with the separation of vowels and consonnants: it is not the same across all scripts
    (see 'r' and 'l' in Brahmic scripts), and even in the same script (including Latin) some letters have the two roles
    (u/v/w, y, i/j: their true separation will also depend of the source language).

    I am quite curious to know how Korean can transcribe foreign words : does it respect (more or less) the initial
    morphemes, or does the Korean rule which makes all Korean consonnants occuring before a vowel be treated always as
    an initial consonnant (so with a possible syllabic separation before it but NEVER after it) ?

    How would for example korean transcribe (i.e. separate the syllabic groups to make the distinction between final and
    initial consonnants) these words if they were borrowed:

    - perspective : pers-pec-ti-ve one or per-spec-ti-ve ? (the 1st one would use the single leading consonnant logic
    of Korean's phonology, the 2nd one would respect the etymology)

    - restriction : rest-ric-tion or res-tric-tion ?

    There are also certainly the cases with old/classic Korean, where the simpler set of Korean consonnant groups does
    not always apply, and syllabic structures more complex than just:

    - CV or CVC (most common syllables)

    - initial-only V (or VC), with a leading empty/mute consonnant implied (is it always IEUNG, when a leaing glottal
    stop may added in Korean ?);

    I.e. where there are also possibly multiple leading consonnants (like CCV or CCVC) other than SSANG
    (double/geminated) consonnants, or multiple trailing consonnants (like CVCC, or initial-only VCC)

    Now what will happen in a Korean input method if someone types two successive vowels?

    - Will necessarily an empty/mute consonnant (leading) be inserted between them (notably when trascripting foreign
    diphtongs? A common case would be the transcription of foreign long vowels : Will Korean use diacritics instead of
    inserting a mute consonnant? If so, if it still always needed to transcribe the first vowel?

    - Another case will involve the special handling of some vowel "pairs" (OE for example is treated as a single
    vowel in Hangul Romanizations).

    What will happen if a discritic is needed to make a distinction in one of the multiple final consonnants, or in one
    of the multiple initial consonnants ? Is the syllabic square still used in this case? Couldn't simple separated
    consonnant jamos be used instead (with "defective" Hangul clusters containing no medial vowel, where the distinction
    between initial and final consonnants would not be relevant at all, in which case they would possibly be written
    using the "compatibility jamos" in half-square (non syllabic) form, or full-square form (pseudo-syllabic)? Or will
    it be encoding a Hangul "FILLER" (completely mute, and without visible glyph) vowel ?

    All this apparent complexity comes from the syllabic composition layout feature of Hangul squares. If Korean was
    written only using basic jamos linearily, it would really ressemble to Latin/Greek/Cyrillic alphabets (except that
    it would have much fewer letters, and the distinction of SSANG/double/geminated consonnants, would be unnecessary as
    it is just needed for the simple representation of modern Korean using the simplified CV or CVC syllabic structures)
    : this representation (as well as the use a a mute but visible and typed default eanding consonnant for syllables
    starting by a vowel) effectively allows a fast input mode for modern Korean.

    But the introduction of many foreign words (notably from English) may change the needs radically, or may require an
    adaptation of the orthography and phonology of borrowed foreign words (notably when the more recent reform of Korean
    orthography now completely deprecates the use of multiple leading consonnants or multiple final consonnants in
    syllabic squares). If Korean continues to evolve like this, it may need to add new letters (with distinct glyphs) to
    its alphabet (in two forms for initial/final consonnants), or add new diacritics for foreign vowels (or diphtongs),
    in order to keep the simplified syllabic structure CV or CVC (or it will revive some older "deprecated" letters from
    classical Korean), just like it is happening in other scripts (notably Latin where many additions are there to
    support many more languages and their phonologic distinctions).


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