[KS] Koreanstudies Digest, Vol 74, Issue 7

Jeremy M. Kritt jmkritt at gmail.com
Sun Aug 9 13:17:15 EDT 2009

Hello everyone!

The only problem with Hulbert's argument is that it is linguistically
incorrect. Hangul falls short of being able to capture the significant tonal
structure of various forms of spoken Chinese. That is probably one reason
why this project failed miserably in China.

Hangul was not developed to capture all the sounds that are humanly
possible. Instead, the orthography was designed to meet the needs of a very
specific sociolinguistic situation for a particular spoken language.

Given that language is such a core aspect of a community's identity, it is a
rather strange idea to think that a country like China would even remotely
consider adopting a writing system developed by a country it considers to be
culturally subordinate. While it may have been attempted on a small scale,
it was clearly destined to fail from the outset and the premises fueling
such a movement seem to be misguided.

Of course, my comments are not meant to diminish the accomplishment of
Hangul. Korean people should be proud of their language; however, as was
previously mentioned by a distinguished scholar, at times that pride leads
to rather strange ideas.

One observation from the Hulburt quotes in the previous post that I find
interesting is the following. While the adoption of Hangul was
representative of a linguistic shift initiated by a language policy
formulated by some Koreans (pushed from within), the attempt to change
written Chinese to Hangul in China was from foreigners (pulled from the
outside). That seems like a big difference to me.


Jeremy M. Kritt

On Mon, Aug 10, 2009 at 1:00 AM, <koreanstudies-request at koreaweb.ws> wrote:

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> Today's Topics:
>   1. Exporting Hanguel Writing System (Kwang On Yoo)
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Message: 1
> Date: Sun, 9 Aug 2009 06:04:15 -0500
> From: Kwang On Yoo <lovehankook at gmail.com>
> Subject: [KS] Exporting Hanguel Writing System
> To: Korean Studies Discussion List <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
> Message-ID:
>        <10b0e4d40908090404q532ce098r8647823d8c3e77cb at mail.gmail.com>
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> To All,
> The Indonesian story has excited many scholars but there were some cynicism
> too.
>  But the idea of exporting Korean writing system is not new at all.
> Well over 100 years ago, even before the word Hangul was coined, non other
> than
> Homer B. Hulburt* wrote:
> p34 "There are a great many foreigners in China who are trying to evolve a
> phonetic system
> of writing for that country."
> p35  " - - - the present writer has urged that the Chinese people be
> invited
> to adopt
> the Korean alphabet, which is as simple in structure as any, and capable of
> the widest phonetic adaptation."
> "- - - and the only work to be done in introducing it is to overcome the
> sentimental prejudice
> of the Chinese in favour of the ideograph."
> *The Passing of Korea, 1906
> Kwang-On Yoo
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