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Han-guel (the Korean Alphabet)
“Han-guel” is the official name for the Korean alphabet. Because spoken languages have some limits in communication, mankind invented letters. However, there are less than 100 alphabets now in use in the world while at the same time there are over thousands of spoken languages. Han-guel ranks in the world’s most used written languages. Han-guel is unique because it was invented by one person over a short period of time and became established as a nation’s alphabet system. Moreover, the inventor published a book on the usage of the language with explanations of the alphabet system. This was a unique historical event that no precedent. Scholars in linguistics all over the world acknowledge that the explanation is logical and systematic. Han-guel was invented by King Sejong and his scholars in Jib-hyeon-jeon in the 15th century. It was called “Hun-min-jeong-eum” at the time of its invention. It is known as one of the most scientific and practical alphabet systems and served as basis for the development of Korean culture and science. Hun-min-jeong-eum is a National Treasure (#70), and was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage in 1997.
CharacteristicsHan-guel is one of the most inventive and original alphabets in the world and has unique characteristics as follows: First, while it is unknown who is responsible for creating most alphabet systems in the world, Han-guel was invented by King Sejong of Joseon and his scholars in 1443. Second, Han-guel was not influenced by other countries’ alphabet systems, and was invented originally by taking the shape of the vocal organs as well as the shape of heaven, earth, and humankind.
|Consonants||ㄱ||Shape of tongue blocking the throat|
|ㄴ||Shape of tongue sticking to upper tooth|
|ㅁ||Shape of lips|
|ㅅ||Shape of teeth|
|ㅇ||Shape of throat|
|Vowels||.||Shape of round heaven|
|-||Shape of flat earth|
||||Shape of a human standing|
Third, the Korean alphabet is based on a systematic and scientific principle, and you can produce almost limitless number of characters by combining the basic five consonants of ㄱ, ㄴ, ㅁ, ㅅ, and ㅇ and the three basic vowels, ㆍ, ㅡ, andㅣ
|Consonants||Add lines to the basic consonants||ㄱ → ㅋ, ㄴ → ㄷ, ㅁ → ㅂ, ㅅ → ㅈ, ㅇ → ㅎ .....|
|Repeat the same letter or add another letter||ㄱ → ㄲ, ㄷ → ㄸ, ㅂ → ㅃ, ㅅ → ㅆ, ㅂ+ㅅ→ㅄ ......|
|Vowels||Vowels||ㅣ+ㆍ→ㅏ, ㆍ+ㅡ →ㅗ, ㅗ+ㅏ→ㅘ .....|
Fourth, as Korean characters are phonetic symbols, any pronunciation can be written correctly and easily in Korean letters. Fifth, from the perspective of modern linguistics, science, and technology, the Korean alphabet is easy to type or print out on computers as well as to send text messages on cell phones.