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Reference sources

 

 

 

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  If the screen does not look normal, download and install Hangeul fonts for old Korean language from the link below.

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 For Linux and android: http://ftp.ktug.org/KTUG/hcr-lvt/Hamchorom-LVT.zip

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1. Hunmin Jeongeum - Writing system for the 15th century Korean


1.1. more basic letters

1.1.1. four basic letters that are currently obsolete

1.1.1.1. 

1.1.1.2. ㆆ

1.1.1.3. ㅿ

1.1.1.4. ㆍ ​​​​​​

 1.2. more flexible combinations of letters

1.2.1. horizontal doubling of a letter in the initial position

1.2.2. horizontal binding of​ consonant letters

1.2.3. vertical appending of a letter 'ㅇ' under other consonant letters

1.2.4. combination of vowel letters​​​

1.3. Modification of letters for Chinese pronunciation

1.4. Differences in pronunciation

1.4.1. Differences in consonant pronunciation

1.4.2. Differences in vowel pronunciation

1.5. Tone notation using side dots​​


2. Examples of foreign languages transcribed into Hangeul during the Joseon Dynasty


2.1. Chinese

2.2. Manchu

2.3. Mongol

2.4. Japanese

2.5. English

​​

1. Hunmin Jeongeum - Writing system for the 15th century Korean


 ​Hunmin Jeongeum is the original name of Hangeul when it was first created by King Sejong in the 15th century. It means 'the right sounds(=letters) to teach people'.​ It is also the name of its manual. (The Hunmin Jeongeum The sound structure of the Korean language of the 15th century was more complex than that of modern Korean, so Hunmin Jeongeum had more letters and could represent more complex syllable structures.

 Modern Korean language has undergone many changes: its sound structure has become simpler and Hangeul writing system for contemporary Korean has become simpler as well. Contemporary Hangeul writing system for the Korean language has limitations in representing various languages of the world. That's why the Hangeul Festa decided to allow the use of the Hunmin Jeongeum style writing system. We hope the participants can have more freedom in rewriting their language in Hangeul.

Now let's look at the differences between Hunmin Jeongeum (a 15th-century style of Hangeul) and modern Hangeul, and develop your own Hunmin Jeongeum-based writing system of your language.


 

 A page of the Hunmin Jeongeum showing old letters - Courtesy of Cultural Heritage Administration National Cultural Heritage Portal (link)​​​



Differences between the Hunmin Jeongeum writing system and modern Korean orthography


1.1. more basic letters


Modern Hangeul has 24 basic letters (14 consonant letters and 10 vowel letters), while the Hunmin Jeongeum had 28 basic letters (17 consonant letters and 11 vowel letters), with three additional consonant letters (ㅿ, ㆁ, ㆆ) and one additional vowel letter (ㆍ) that are no longer in use. The order of the letters in the Hunmin Jeongeum is different from that in use today (ㄱ, ㄴ, ㄷ, ... ㅎ, ㅏ, ㅑ, ㅓ, .... ㅣ).​

 

 

The following table lists letters whose usage or explanation can be found in the literature from the time of the creation of Hunmin Jeongeum.

  type of letters

 letters

 The 17 basic initial letters (in the same order as in the Hunmin Jeongeum) 

  

 The 11 basic middle letters (in the same order as in the Hunmin Jeongeum)

 

 horizontal juxtaposition of a letter in the initial position

  

 horizontal arrangment of up to 3 different letters in the initial position

  ​​ 

 horizontal arrangment of up to 3 different letters in the final position

 

  ​ 

 vertical appending of a letter 'ㅇ' under other consonant letters

 

  

  combination of vowel letters

 

 

 

  ​​ 

 

 

1.1.1.  4 basic letters that are currently obsolete

 

 1.1.1.1. 

letter 

 pronunciation

example

  

  /ŋ/

(bell)/ba ŋol/,   (racoon dog) /rə ŋul/

(owl) /bu həŋ/, (tadpole) /ol ʦaŋ/ 

  

 

In modern Korean, 'ㅇ' has no sound when used as a syllable initial consonant and has a [ŋ] sound when used as a syllable final consonant. However, in the Hunmin Jeongeum, '' was a letter with no sound in both initial and final positions. In Hunmin Jeongeum, '', a letter with a short line on top, ​was used as a letter to represent /ŋ/ in the final position. It was also used in the initial position as you can see above, 

 

1.1.1.2. ㆆ 

letter 

 pronunciation

 example

 

 /ʔ/

(one) /ʔil/

(to do) /holʔ/ 

  

 This letter was rarely used, and it was used for representing Sino-Korean pronunciations for very weak glottal sounds. Among the four basic letters that are no longer used in modern Korean, this letter was the first to disappear.

1.1.1.3. ㅿ  

 

letter 

 pronunciation

 examples

  

 /z/

(little brother) /a zʌ/,  (fox) /jəzɯ/

(fox leather) /jəz ɯj gas/

  

Many scholars believe that /z/ existed in 15th century Korean, 'ㅿ' was used to represent this sound. It was also used to represent [ʒ] sound of Middle Chinese which now corresponds to the sound of 日 in contemorary Chinese.

 

 1.1.1.4. ㆍ 

letter 

pronunciation

 example

/ ʌ /​ 

 (moon) /dʌl/,  (rice) /bsʌl/,  (one) /hʌna/

 (butterfly) /nabʌj/,  (mosquito)/mogʌj/

 

 The currently disappeared vowel letter 'ㆍ' is conventionally called 'Arae A' in Korean. Many scholars believe that the sound represented by this letter was /ʌ/.​

  

 

 1.2. more flexible combinations of letters

 

In modern Korean, only up to two consonant letters can be written in the initial and final positions of a syllable. The middle position can be analyzed as having three vowel letters, but based on the actual sounds, only two letters can be in the middle of the syllable. (ㅙ = ㅗ +ㅐ, not ㅗ + ㅏ +ㅣ, ㅞ = ㅜ + ㅔ, not ㅜ + ㅓ +ㅣ , ㅘ = ㅗ + ㅏ, ㅝ = ㅜ + ㅓ, ...). 

 

Unlike modern Korean orthography, 15th-century Korean orthography allowed up to three consonant letters to be written together for the initial and final positions, and up to three vowel letters for the middle position of the syllable.  


1.2.1. horizontal doubling of a letter in the initial position

 

letters

pronunciaton 

examples

g or​ k˭

꾸ᇰ(: to exhaust) [guŋ] or​ [k˭​uŋ] 

d​ or​ t˭

 (: same) [doŋor​ [t˭​​] 

or​ p˭

뼈ᇰ(: illness) [bjəŋor​ [p˭ŋ​​​] 

s˭

쓰다(write) [s˭ɯda], 쎠ᇰ(: to accomplish) [s˭​ŋ] 

dz or​ ts

 (: to exist) [dzon] or​ [tson]

 çː 

 ᅘᅧ다 (pull) [çːjə da] 

  χ 

ᅘᅩᇰ(: wide) [χoŋ] 

 ㅥ

 nː 

다ᄔᆞ니라(verb: touches) [tanː​ʌnira] 

jː

 괴ᅇᅧ(be loved) [koj jːə] 

  

, , , ㅉ and were sometimes used to represent Korean consonants, but were primarily used to represent voiced consonants in medieval Chinese.  was sometimes used when two 's occurred consecutively, but the 1st was usually used as the final consonant of the preceding syllable, as in '니라'. and were used to represent marginal phonetic variations of and before [j], such as '혀다' and '괴ᅇᅧ'.

 

1.2.2. horizontal binding of​ consonant letters

When consonant letters were written horizontally as a group in the same position (initial or final), they could be pronounced simply as a cluster of the sounds of each letter, but scholars disagree on how they sounded when three consonant letters were written together in the initial position. For now, let's assume that all three letters are read as a cluster of the sound of each letter.​

 example

sound

 (rice) 

 /bsʌl/

  (rooster)

 /dʌrg/

 (aperture)

 /bsgɯm/

  (time)

 /bsdaj/

 (rooster’s time: 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.)

 /dʌrgs bsdaj/ 

 

  

1.2.3. vertical appending of a letter 'ㅇ' under other consonant letters


 In the Hunmin Jeongeum, it was explained that to represent fricative sounds distinct from ㅂ, ㅍ, ㅁ, and ㅃ, one could add ㅇ under each letter. Among them, the only letter used in Korean writing was ㅸ. When representing syllable final pronunciations of Chinese '-w', 'ㅱ' was used as the final consonant. It is difficult to find actual usage examples for the other letters.

 

 letter

 pronunciation

example 

[β ~ v]

 (easily) /su βi/

 [f] 

 

[w] 

  /gaw/ 

 [v˭]

 

 

There is no example. Only an explanation about the sound exists.

  


 

 

1.2.4. combination of vowel letters

 

Fifteenth-century Korean allowed for many more vowel combinations than modern Korean. Here are some of the vowel combinations that appear or are described in the early literature:

  

 
 
 In the 15th century, In the Hunmin Jeongeum some special combinations were proposed to represent dialectal or child pronunciations not used in standard Korean of those days without any examples. These letters are not used in modern standard Korean, but special forms to represent those sounds are sometimes used for dialects.

 

 letter combination in the Hunmin Jeongeum

 the estimated pronunciation of the 15th century

 contemporary Hangeul orthography

 ᅟᆝ​ 

 

-

ᅟᆜ

 jɯ​

-

 

 an improvised letter for some modern dialect sounds

 the pronuciation in some dialects

 examle

 ᅟᆝ→ ᅟᆢ

 

  (in standard Korean: 야무지다) 

ᅟᆜ  → ᅟᆖ 

 (in standard Korean: 영감)

 

 

   

1.3.  Modification of letters for Chinese pronunciation

 

In the 15th century Korean, there were some modified letters used specifically for indicating Chinese pronunciation. These modified letters were created to distinguish and represent the 'dental sibilant' and 'retroflex sibilants' of the Middle Chinese language. (For more information, see the table Late Middle Chinese initials​ in the link.)

The modified letters for Chinese pronunciation in the 15th century Korean were as follows: These modified letters were  only used to represent the pronunciation of Chinese, but you can use them to represent other sounds of your languages in Hangul Festa.

 

 letter

36 initials(link)

sound type

pronunciation

 

 

 

 dental sibilant

 This letter was used to represent the sound [s] in Chinese pronunciation.​  ​(approximation)

 

 邪​​

 

 dental sibilant

 ​This letter was used to represent the sound [z] in Chinese pronunciation.​ ​(approximation)

 

 精​​

 

 dental sibilant

 ​This letter was used to represent the sound [ts] in Chinese pronunciation.​ ​(approximation)

 

 從​​

 

 dental sibilant

 ​This letter was used to represent the sound [dz] in Chinese pronunciation.​ ​(approximation)

 

 清​​

 

 dental sibilant

 ​This letter was used to represent the sound [tsʰ] in Chinese pronunciation.​ ​(approximation)

 

 

 

 

 retroflex sibilant

This letter was used to represent the sound [ɕ] in Chinese pronunciation.​ ​​(approximation)

 

 

 

 

 retroflex sibilant

 This letter was used to represent the sound [ʑ] in Chinese pronunciation.​ ​​(approximation)

 

 

 

 

 retroflex sibilant

​This letter was used to represent the sound [tɕ] in Chinese pronunciation.​  ​​(approximation)

 

 

 

 

 retroflex sibilant

This letter was used to represent the sound [dʑ] in Chinese pronunciation.​​(approximation)

 

 

 

 retroflex sibilant

This letter was used to represent the sound [tɕʰ] in Chinese pronunciation.​​(approximation)

 

 

 

1.4.  Differences in pronunciation

 

 

1.4.1. Differences in consonats pronunciation 


In modern Korean, the consonants 'ㅅ', 'ㅈ', 'ㅊ' end with [t] sound in the final position. However, in 15th century Korean, 'ㅅ', 'ㅈ', 'ㅊ' were pronounced as [s]. 

 

letter 

syllable initial in the Hunmin Jeongeum 

syllable initial in contemporary Hangeul

syllable​ final in the Hunmin Jeongeum 

 syllable final in contemporary Hangeul

ㅅ 

 s- 

 s- 

-s

-t

ㅈ 

 ʣ- 

 ʥ- 

-s

-t

ㅊ 

 ts- 

 ʨ- 

-s

-t

 

     

1.4.2. Differences in vowel pronunciation

 

In modern Korean, the combination of certain vowel letters represents new vowels. However, in 15th century Korean, vowel letters could be read as a cluster of the original sound of vowel letters.

  

 letter

pronunciation in the Hunmin Jeongeum

pronuciation in contemporary Hangeul 

ㅐ 

 [aj]

 [ɛ]

ㅔ 

[əj]​

[e]

 [oj]

 [ø ~ we]

[uj]

 [y ~ wi]

[wai]

 [wɛ]

[wəj]

 [we]

 [ʌj]

-

  

The only exception was when combining vowel letters which were beginning with [j-]: ㅛ, ㅑ, ㅠ, ㅕ]. These were special combinations used when writing Chinese sounds, and were used in a very unusual way, where two letters beginning with [j-] were combined and only one [j] was pronounced.

 letter

 pronunciation of the 15th century

 contemporary Hangeul orthography

 

 jwa

-

 

 jwaj

  -

 

 jwə

  -

 

 jwəj

  -

 

   

1.5. Tone notation using side dots

 

In 15th century Korean, there were four tones: low, rising, high and checked tones which were determined by the final consonant. Dots were placed on the left side of the letters to represent tones.

 

 

 tone

number of dots

 example

low

 none

high

1

rising

2

 

  

 

 

 


2. Examples of foreign languages transcribed into Hangeul during the Joseon Dynasty

 


To train translators during the Joseon Dynasty (1392 -1910), Sa-Yeok-Won, the bureau of translation foreign language education compiled textbooks for learning foreign languages. 

These textbooks transcribed the pronunciation of each foreign language in Hangeul, which varied slightly from language to language, even within the same language, depending on the nature intent of the textbook. In the 19th century, the Joseon Dynasty began to make contact with Western countries. People felt the need to record the sounds of the languages they were encountering for the first time. Here are some examples:

 

 2.1. Chinese



  

Beonyeok Baktongsa, (before 1517)​ Digital Hangeul Museum  (requires installing a viewer / PC only)

 

Nogeoldae Eonhae (1670​) Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies 

 

Baktongsa​ Sinseok Eonhae (1765)​ Digital Hangeul Museum​ (requires installing a viewer / PC only)

 

Junggan Nogeoldae Vol.1 (1795)​ Digital Hangeul Museum (requries installing a viewer / PC only)

Junggan Nogeoldae Vol.2​ (1795)​ Digital Hangeul Museum (requries installing a viewer / PC only)

 


2.2. Manchu

 

 

  

Soaron (1703? 1777?)​ National Library of Korea 

 

Dongmun Yuhae (1748) ​ Digital Hangeul Museum  requries installing a viewer. PC only)

 

Hancheong Mun-gam (1779) ​National Library of Korea  (requries installing a viewer. PC only)

 

Cheong-eo Nogeoldae​  National Library of Korea

  

 

2.3. Mongol

 

 

Mong-eo Nogeoldae (Old Cathayan for Mongolian)​ Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies  

Cheophae Mong-eo(=Mongolian primer) (1790)​ Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies  

 

 

2.4. Japanese

 

 

 

  

Junggan Cheophae Sineo ​ Digital Hangeul Museum 

 

Wae-eo Yuhae Vol. 1  ​Digital Hangeul Museum

 

Wae-eo Yuhae Vol​. 2  ​Digital Hangeul Museum

 

Ineo Daebang1790 ​ Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies

 

Ahakpyeon 1910  National Library of Korea 

 

  

2.5. English



 


 

 A Study of Hangeul Transcription of English Words Pronunciations in Ahakpyeon

kci.go.kr (in Korean)

 

 

 

 

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