Languages & Cultures of East Asia

Trad 101, Sections 18-19-20-21   Fall 2000

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Lecture Outline, 9/13/00 - Korean Writing System

JPN word-processing
     How it works


     Writing systems in Japanese

Kanji (Chinese characters) Chinese character 'rain'
Hiragana 2 Japanese characters
Katakana 2 Japanese characters
The Roman alphabet

     How do you use them?

               Kanji = content words
               Hiragana = inflectional endings and particles
               Katakana = foreign words (except for Chinese)

JPN word-processing

     Difficult to learn/use
          Three different systems plus the Roman alphabet
          Multiple readings of Kanji

     Abolishing Kanji?
     Romanizing everything?

     Homonyms (borrowed many words from Chinese)
     Very high literacy rate (99%)
     Part of the culture

     Limit the number of Kanji (approx. 2000)


     Example (overhead)
          Vertical and horizontal
          Space between words
          North Korea - The Korean alphabet (Hankul)
          South Korea - Chinese characters (1700-1800) and Hangul


          By the early centuries of the Christian era
               Chinese writing had been imported

          1443, Hankul was created (King Sejong)


               Korean (taken from Handbook for Teaching
               Korean-American Students 1992:68)

chot'a (it) is good
choatta (it) was good
choeumyeon if (it) is good
choketta (it) might be good
choeushida (s/he) is good -honorific

               Chinese characters weren't appropriate for Korean
               For common people

     How it works

Each symbol = syllable Korean characters for 'ka' and 'mal'
Each part of the symbol = sound Separated versions of the Korean characters for 'ka' and 'mal'

          syllabic (and alphabetic)

          Symbols are based on the shape of the speech organ (overhead)

          9 symbols and their English sounds

          Very logical
          Easy to learn/use (a small number of symbols, like in English)

                    English: big tree; Korean pronunciation: kheun namu, 2 Korean characters