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Date [ 2008-10-25, 15:20 ]

The Koran language has been scientifically formulated

  The Koran language has been scientifically formulated by its founding fathers. This year it celebrates its milestone anniversary.


 Korea is geographically a small country due to its small size; however, it is not so small with regards to its population. The total of the two Koreas - North and South Korea - is approximately 70 million, which ranks it 15th in the world. If you also take in the number of Koreans settled abroad and still communicating in the Korean language, then it swells even further,


 The total Korean-speaking populace worldwide places it at no.13 among other world languages. The world’s widest spoken language is Mandarin followed by Hindi, Spanish, English, Arabic, Bengali, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, German, French and Malay-Indonesian.


 There is a report that a number of minority languages on Earth are becoming extinct. This means in the years to come; only a few languages will survive. One reason why some in Korea advocate that English should now become the official language of the Koreans... Others suggest that English should be the nation's native language instead of Korean. However, there is more to this dilemma than a mere adjustment to a changing world and Korea’s role in the global village. Does it surge ahead on the back of English or become cloistered in Hangul?


(Kuala Lumpur=Koreanpress) by Ramani = It would be easy to make a choice if language is merely a means of communication.  

It is not! For a language is a reflection of a people's history. Where they came from and where they are going. A mirror of their culture, explaining their religion, their festivities, their literature, their philosophy.

It shows their fashion, cuisine, entertainment. How they live and love, from the bond between a husband and wife and the love between parents and their children, it is their spirit. It is in their blood – It is Hangul!


When a race loses its language, it loses itself. When the Manchus stopped using their language, they were virtually wiped out as a nation. Between their language and themselves, a race has an intrinsic bond. Break that bond and that race is gone from the face of the earth. Yes, physically they may survive, as just another human on earth. But as a, let us say, a Manchu again, he does not exist anymore! Korea and Koreans would not be surviving today if they had been swamped under Japanese colonial rule. If they had totally succumbed, they would be speaking Nippon and most probably be wearing a kimono as their national costume.


This is why the French are so against American culture invading them. They have tried to keep the French language as pure as possible. They do their best to find French words to replace such endemic American terms as hotdog, jive, ongoing, downsizing and others. The Tamils have created a special television station where English is not allowed to creep in as in other Indian stations. The announcers have a tendency to pepper their announcements with English words every now and then. So it is commendable, that despite Japanese pressure during their occupation, the people managed to cling on to Hangul, preserve it and bring it forward to this Millennium.


Like in most matters, it is prudent to take a middle road. Thus for today, while maintaining and developing Hangul, it will also be wise to have an open mind. To observe and understand foreigners and foreign languages. This way, we have a foot in our culture and another on the outside world. It is a good blueprint to keep our language and at the same time move in unison with the rest of the world.


Characteristics of Hangul


Numerous symbols used in the world may be broadly divided into two types: semantic and phonetic symbols. A semantic symbol shows each symbol with a specific meaning, such as in Chinese characters.  Phonetic symbols do not carry meanings but specific sounds. As there are countless morphemes or words that have certain meanings in the system of a language, a semantic language tends to have numerous characters. In contrast, a phonetic language makes it possible to symbolize it via several tenses. These are able to produce distinctive sounds to show the different aspects of a language.


 Even though a semantic symbol may have certain advantages, too much effort is required to manage and conserve the grammar of the language as new materials, objects and concepts come on the scene. It also becomes such a hassle to instruct or learn new words in the semantic language as the number of characters increase continuously.  There have been many cases where a phonetic language has been grafted onto a semantic language. It shows, in many ways, phonetic symbols are more advanced than those of semantics...


A phonetic symbol can be again classified into a syllabic character and a phonemic character. In the system of a language, there are tens of phonemes but hundreds or thousands of syllables. Therefore, a phonemic language is considered more advanced than a syllabic language. This is due to the fact that a syllabic character needs more words than a phonemic character. However, there is no serious inconvenience if a syllabic language does not have many syllables. The Japanese language is a good example.


 Keeping this classification in mind, Hangul belongs to a syllabic language, the most systemic language existing in the world.  Besides, the Korean language has a unique characteristic, distinguishing it from any other kind of systemic languages. That is, each character representing consonants and vowels are not individuals like ‘atoms’ but are linked in certain special positions. These are syllabic units made up of two, three or four letters and written left to right and up to down, clockwise.


 Considering its systematic characteristics, some scholars regard Hangul not merely as a phonemic language, but as a newly-created featural writing system. A featural writing system is the most advanced among all other language systems. Moreover, Hangul is the only language in the world which belongs to this writing system.


 History of Hangul


 People in general are oblivious of the importance of air. Only when it disappears and everyone begins to gasp for a lack of oxygen, that its value is appreciated. It is the same with language – nearly all view it as mere scrawls of symbols and letters representing sound. The true value behind its alphabets is not realized, even though they are a part of one’s daily life. Perhaps only when they lose their language will a people realize what they have really lost – a way of life that was their own!


 The Korean people also had to go through such difficulties before the creation of Hangul. At that time, the ancestors of the Koreans lived their life using Hanja (Chinese characters). Just as Latin acted as a common language in medieval Europe regardless of the various races, the Chinese language and Hanja too played the same role, not only in Korea, but also in Japan, Vietnam and many other countries covering a wide range of  East Asia. It was only natural that over a period of time. Koreans used Hanja and the Chinese language as their own...


 However, it was troublesome to represent the Korean language with the Chinese characters because Hanja is significantly different from Korean. An absurd situation caused by the dissimilarity between spoken Korean and written Korean continued. Koreans of the bygone era   had to endure learning how to speak their own language and than transcribing it into Hanja. A daunting task indeed!


 Even though the upper class also had some difficulties using and learning the language, they just 'accepted' the situation because it gave them a solid foundation to maintain their power over the masses. Since only those who learned the Chinese language could take an examination to be a government official, it gave them an opportunity to hold positions of government and use that to gain illicit profits. The emergence of the new Hangul characters was therefore not a welcome development for the upper class who had all this while enjoyed numerous social privileges.


 It was the main reason for King Se-jong to create Hangul and thus break the monopoly of the nobles. The language leveled the playing field for all Korean citizens, rich or poor! It was also an epoch-making political ploy; King Sejong anticipated there would be concerted opposition from the upper class. So Hangul was created in absolute secrecy. This was no easy task for King Se-jong was not too sure of getting assistance from subjects he could absolutely trust


It is commonly believed that the Korean king brought out Hangul in collaboration with the scholars in Jip-hyun-jun or that the King himself ordered the scholars to create the language, This is a fallacy. Authentic records, such as Se-jong's personal account or the Hun-ming-jung-em Hae-rye-bon, emphasize that it was King Se-jong himself who ultimately created Hangul.


 Ninth of October



A controversy arose on deciding Hangul's Day. Since King Se-jong was very secretive there are no clear and in-depth records about its actual creation. Not even in the dynasty's account (Syll-lok).As a rule, events relating to the kings were accurately recorded and dated. However, the creation of Hangul was not mentioned at all. Instead it was simply stated at the end page of an annals marked as December, the Year 1443(25th year of King Se-jong), that 'the King made 28 characters this month.’ No specific date was written down.  Then after three years, in 1446, another record appeared that stated 'Hun-min-jung-em (Hangul) was created this month' on the page of a September account, also without a date.


Contemporary scholars were thus confused over these two different records. They interpreted that Hangul had actually been made in December, 1443.  But later due to alterations and corrections, the revised and fully corrected Hangul was produced in September, 1446, a gap of three years. Consequently, it was decided that September, 1446 would be a more accurate period than the year of 1443. But as there was no mention about the exact date, the scholars decided to assume it to be the end of the month and converted it into the solar calendar which resulted in October 29 as being the date Hangul was born...


 After some years, the original edition of Hun-ming-jung-em Hae-rye-bon was discovered. It stated that the date of the creation was early September of the 28th year of King Se-jong’s rule... Although it is not an accurate date, it was necessary to advance by about 20 days. Therefore, Hangul's Day was set on the 9th of October.



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